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Gunman fatally shot by police after standoff at college Wednesday

SHARE Gunman fatally shot by police after standoff at college Wednesday

DYERSBURG, Tenn. — A 26-year-old man with a history of mental problems held at least a dozen college students at gunpoint during a nine-hour standoff before a SWAT team stormed the school building and killed him.

Authorities said the gunman, Harold Kilpatrick Jr., had left a note at his sister's house before the standoff Wednesday saying he "wanted to kill some people and die today."

Police rushed into the building at Dyersburg State Community College around 10 p.m. after hearing shots and killed Kilpatrick. Two hostages were wounded, and state agents were investigating whether they were injured by police or Kilpatrick.

Police declined to identify the two hostages or say whether they were students or teachers. The patients were airlifted to hospitals with injuries that police said didn't appear to be life-threatening.

Classes resumed Thursday, and counselors were available to students and faculty, school officials said.

Kilpatrick's cousin, Carolyn Reed, who was at the college Wednesday, said he was being treated for mental problems but was not taking his prescribed medication. Police said Kilpatrick was not a student or college employee.

"He was making threats and it was very clear he was serious," professor Erskine Ausbrooks, who heard parts of the standoff from a nearby room, told NBC's "Today" show Thursday. "My understanding is this was a completely random choice."

Dyersburg Police Chief Bobby Williamson said there were 12 to 16 people in the basic math classroom when the standoff began. About three hours later, three women students were released, one of whom was pregnant. The teacher remained in the classroom.

The gunman, believed to have had a 9mm pistol and what looked like a butcher knife, made no demands — aside from food and drink — during the standoff. In the evening, he asked for six pepperoni pizzas and two six-packs of soft drinks, which police delivered.

The gunman claimed to be a member of al-Qaida, and Williamson said that although authorities had no reason to believe the claim, the FBI had been called in. Justice Department officials in Washington also said they had no evidence that the gunman was a member of the terrorist organization.

Authorities said Kilpatrick, of Memphis, was staying with his sister in Dyersburg. In the suicide note, left at his sister's house, he also said he didn't like Americans and had spoken with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, Williamson said.

Officers communicated with the gunman through student hostages on their cell phones, but Kilpatrick wouldn't speak directly to police, Williamson said. They talked to his sister at the scene, but the gunman wouldn't talk to her, Williamson said.

Kilpatrick faced criminal charges of assault and kidnapping in another case, Dyersburg police spokesman Charles Maxey said. He had no details but said Kilpatrick had been scheduled to appear in a Memphis courtroom Wednesday.

Ausbrooks, who has a background in counseling, talked to the hostages afterward.

"Of course, they were very frightened, scared of what was happening to them," he said. "But generally the perpetrator had a good sense of compassion for the people, and if they were thirsty or hungry was helping them."