September 7, 2011 / 8:50 PM / 8 years ago

Nevada gunman said detained in 2000 for mental issues

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A man who opened fire at a Nevada pancake house, killing three National Guard soldiers and a civilian before shooting himself, was detained for mental health reasons over a decade ago, police said on Wednesday.

Eduardo Sencion is pictured in this driver's license photograph released by the Carson City Nevada Sheriff's Office September 6, 2011. REUTERS/Courtesy Carson City Sheriff's Office/KRNV/Handout

The man’s family has cited mental illness as a possible factor in Tuesday’s shooting rampage, which also wounded seven other people in what investigators said initially appeared to have been a random act of violence.

Eduardo Sencion, 32, had been taken into custody in South Lake Tahoe in 2000 under a California law that allows police to hold a person who presents a danger to themselves or others, South Lake Tahoe police spokesman Lt. David Stevenson said.

Sencion, who worked in South Lake Tahoe at his family’s market, was held so he could receive psychiatric evaluation and care, Stevenson said.

Stevenson declined to elaborate on the incident that prompted police to detain Sencion, but said a report did not name any victims and that no weapons were involved.

Sencion walked into an IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada, on Tuesday and opened fire, killing the three uniformed soldiers and a 67-year-old woman and wounding seven others before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.

He initially survived his self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but later died at an area hospital.

Besides the three Guard soldiers who were shot to death, two of the wounded were also active-duty Guard members.

Carson City Sheriff Kenneth Furlong has said there was no sign that Sencion, a Mexican-born U.S. citizen, knew anyone at the restaurant or had singled out members of the military.

He said investigators were still looking for a motive in the shooting spree, which he called “the most devastating attack on our community ever.”

Furlong also released the names and some details about the four people killed.

Major Heath Kelly, 35, of Reno, had served in Iraq with the Army from 2004-2005, Furlong said, while Sgt. Christian Riege, 38, had served in Afghanistan from 2009-2010.

Also slain were Sgt. Miranda McElhiney, 31, from Reno; and civilian Florence Donovan-Gunderson, 67, from South Lake Tahoe, California, near the Nevada border.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston

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