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Four dead in shooting at Nevada restaurant

CARSON CITY, Nev (Reuters) - A man opened fire at an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada on Tuesday, killing three people and wounding at least eight others before turning the gun on himself, police said.

The body of a shooting victim covered with a sheet lies on the front lawn of an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada as a Douglas County Sheriff deputy stands guard at the crime scene September 6, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Keegan

Two of those killed and three of the wounded at the pancake house on the city’s main thoroughfare were Nevada National Guard members in uniform, police and the National Guard said.

Also killed was a civilian female whose name and age were not immediately released.

The shooting suspect, identified as Eduardo Sencion, 32, initially survived his self-inflicted gunshot wound but later died at an area hospital, police said.

Carson City Sheriff’s Commander Jack Freer said investigators had not yet determined a motive for the shooting or if the gunman had targeted anyone in particular.

Several of the wounded were undergoing surgery at two local hospitals, where there were no further details available on their condition.

A spokesman for Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno confirmed the hospital was treating four victims from the shooting but declined to release information on their condition.

Nevada National Guard spokeswoman Major April Conway said the Guard members were on active duty and had been eating at the IHOP when the shooting started.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a written statement: “The (Carson City) mayor and I ... want to assure all Nevadans and especially residents of Carson City that everything is being done to ensure the public’s safety.”

Sandoval ordered flags flown at half-staff until Friday at dusk in honor of the two National Guardsmen who were killed.

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The state capitol, legislature and Supreme Court buildings were locked down for about an hour shortly after the shooting.

Freer said officers responding to reports of a man with a gun at about 9 a.m. local time found victims shot in the parking lot of the restaurant. More victims were discovered inside, he said.

“The suspect was found down with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Freer said.

Ralph Swagler, owner of the Locals Barbecue shop in the same strip mall as the IHOP, told the Reno Gazette Journal newspaper that he saw a man wearing a red shirt and black shorts pull up outside the IHOP in a blue minivan.

Swagler said the man, armed with a rifle, shot and killed a man on a motorcycle, then walked inside the IHOP and started shooting.

Swagler said the man spent several minutes there, then walked back outside into the parking lot and began firing into the Locals Barbecue and an H&R Block in the strip mall.

“We just heard basically a string of gunshots, probably five to seven back to back ... and then there was probably (a) 30 second delay, then an automatic weapon fired, probably 20 to 30 shots,” Gary Gamba, general sales manager at Michael Hohl Motors, told Reuters.

Gamba said smoke could be seen from the weapons and several minutes later police and ambulances began to arrive. Michael Hohl Motors is across the street from the IHOP.

“We saw life-flights come in, two or three helicopters,” he said.

Fran Hunter, who works at Sierra Le Bone, a pet shop near the IHOP, was having breakfast at Casino Fandango across the street when the shooting occurred, and was so shaken she returned to her own business and locked the doors.

“I thought, if I don’t recognize anyone, I’m not opening the doors,” Hunter, 64, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I can’t believe this is happening here ... You read about this happening in big cities, but not in our little town.”

Nevada Senator Harry Reid issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened” by the shooting.

“I applaud the first responders for their professionalism, and my thoughts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” Reid said.

Additional reporting by Steve Gorman, Dan Whitcomb and Timothy Pratt; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jerry Norton