Details emerge of quiet, troubled IHOP gunman | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Details emerge of quiet, troubled IHOP gunman

SANDRA CHEREB
Associated Press
A private security firm now patrols the IHOP in Carson City, Nev., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2011, following Tuesday's shooting that ended with five people dead, including the gunman, and seven wounded. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
AP | FR70203 AP

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – As Nevada’s capital city tries to come to grips with a deadly shooting attack, investigators Thursday turned their attention to the gunman described as quiet and friendly but who had a troubled past with mental health issues that required medication.

“We are concentrating on the details of his life, which will include his medical records,” Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong told The Associated Press.

Eduardo Sencion, 32, took his own life Tuesday after gunning down 11 people inside an IHOP restaurant, killing four including three uniformed Nevada National Guard members.

“Right now we are building a profile around him. Who is he?” Furlong said.

“Yes, he was on medications. He’s been on medication for a long period of his life. And he was considered to be doing fine.”

“We know that he did not dislike the military and at some point had considered joining,” Furlong said.

Furlong didn’t know if Sencion ever tried to enlist but said his mental health history likely would have precluded his acceptance into the military of his adopted country.

Joe Laub, an attorney who has helped the family with legal concerns in the past, said the Sencions were devastated over the rampage.

“It’s almost as if he was a normal person who had a major psychological defect that was triggered by something,” Laub said.

Sencion, the youngest of four brothers, was born in Mexico but was a legal U.S. resident and had a passport, authorities said.

He had at least one previous encounter with the law. He was taken into protective custody by South Lake Tahoe police during a mental health commitment in April 2000. He fought with officers during the incident but was not charged.

Records show Sencion attended South Tahoe High School, graduating in 1997. Though Sencion is listed as a student in yearbook indexes, there are no photos of him alone or with classmates, and school officials, contacted by the AP, said no current teachers remembered him.

The portrait of a shy, friendly man who worked at his family’s market in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., is in stark contrast to the violent bloodshed, terror and grief that stained what began as a quiet, cloudless day in this community on the edge of the majestic Sierra Nevada range.

Three members of the National Guard were killed when the shooting interrupted their breakfast meeting – 31-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney of Reno; 38-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege of Carson City; and 35-year-old Major Heath Kelly of Reno.

The Guard announced Thursday that Riege was posthumously promoted to the master sergeant.

Florence Donovan-Gunderson, a 67-year-old resident of South Lake Tahoe, was eating with her husband that morning and was sitting near the Guard members when she was shot. She later died at a hospital.

Her husband, Wally Gunderson, also was shot and remained hospitalized Thursday, family and friends said.

Kevin Carrick, a 52-year-old father of eight and a former Air Force paramedic, was in the restaurant when the shooting erupted and helped usher a woman and child out the back door.

“What the heck was going on? You just, you didn’t know. But you didn’t have time to process all that information,” Kevin Carrick said. “All you had to do was try and see if you could do something that could make a difference. My training and my Air Force career 30 years ago probably kicked in.”

Fred Ciccarelli, 60, of Gardnerville, was with Carrick and two other men inside the IHOP when Sencion’s rampage began.

“He was out for a body count – not to pick on any one individual,” Ciccarelli said.

But the shooter seemed to stop himself when he saw a family with a young daughter, even though he walked outside and started firing his gun at more people, Ciccarelli said.

“If he wanted to kill even more people, he could have done so with those three. But he chose not to shoot the mom or dad or the little girl,” he said.

Officers and investigators, Furlong said, have been meeting with Sencion’s family.

“We recognize that they are victims of this as well,” he said. “We are doing everything in our power to make sure they understand that we do care about them.”

The IHOP, on busy U.S. 395 on the south side of the city, was fenced off Thursday. A makeshift memorial of flowers, plants and stuffed animals continued to grow in the parking lot.

Local’s BBQ, adjacent to the crime scene, reopened for lunch, though some businesses still had boards over their shot-out windows.

___

Associated Press writers Cristina Silva, Oskar Garcia and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas and Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.


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