BERKELEY (KCBS / CBS 5) — A man with a gun was shot and wounded by police inside the Haas School of Business on the University of California, Berkeley campus near the scene of Occupy Cal protests Tuesday afternoon, although officials said the two events did not appear to be related.
University spokesman Dan Mogulof told KCBS that the man was shot by UC officers when he raised his gun and did not comply with orders to put it down. Witnesses said they heard several gunshots come from the third-floor computer lab where the incident occured, but officials said fortunately no students were hurt.
The 33-year-old suspected gunman, who has not yet been named, was wounded and transported to Oakland’s Highland Hospital; there was no immediate word on his condition.
At a late afternoon news conference, UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said the incident began when a staff member became “extremely concerned” after noticing what appeared to be a gun in the man’s backpack as he got off an elevator; she then contacted her supervisor and campus police, who located the man sitting at a computer terminal.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
When officers approached the man, he “pulled a firearm out in a threatening manner,” UC Berkeley police Chief Mitch Celaya said. Officers ordered him several times to drop the weapon, and one officer, fearing for his life, opened fire, Celaya explained.
At the time of the shooting, Birgeneau said there were at least four students between the officer who opened fire and the gunman and “it appeared the students’ lives might be at risk.”
Eyewitnesses, who talked separately to reporters, offered similar accounts.
Kaulin Krebs, a junior at UC Berkeley, said he was arriving at the computer lab around 2:15 p.m. when he heard someone say, “Drop to the ground, a guy has a gun,” and saw students on the floor prior to hearing the gunshots.
Haas School of Business employee Lyle Nevels said he observed several police officers enter the computer lab and heard at least one yell, “Drop your gun, Drop your gun!” – before shots were fired.
The shooting happened as an estimated 1,000 Occupy Cal demonstrators gathered in nearby Sproul Plaza on the campus to protest tuition hikes. The large group of students and anti-Wall Street activists were converging on the campus for a day of protests and another attempt to establish an Occupy Cal camp after a failed effort last week led to dozens of arrests.
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The chief said the shooting was still under investigation but that there was no indication it was related to the Occupy Cal protests.
“We don’t know, but there’s nothing to suggest that’s the case,” Celaya said.
The first public word of the shooting came via a campus text alert sent to students shortly before 3 p.m. that read: “Shooting at Haas, police on scene and all under control, avoid the area.”
It was the first shooting on the UC Berkeley campus since the 1980s, which Birgeneau called “extraordinarily upsetting.”
The officer who fired on the suspect was placed on paid administrative leave, as is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, officials said.
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