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In a series of violent confrontations Friday, a gunman with a semiautomatic rifle killed as many as six people and wounded at least five others before being shot dead by police inside the Santa Monica College library, police said.

A "person of interest" was also taken into custody, but it was not immediately clear whether he was involved in the shooting spree, which began just before noon PT (3 p.m. ET).

One of the dead was shot outside the library of the two-year college, where students were studying for or taking final exams.

"The information we have indicates, at this point, that as many as half a dozen victims were shot and killed and several more were injured," Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said at a late afternoon news briefing.

The gunman, who was not immediately identified, was described as white or Latino with curly hair and 20 to 30 years old. Witnesses said he wore body armor and a helmet and brandished a military-style assault rifle, a shotgun, a handgun and an ammunition belt. The back of his black sweatshirt read "Life is a Gamble."

He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police in the library as students dived for cover or ran for safety. Beforehand, students, many wearing headphones, either did not hear or ignored several "pops."

There were no immediate reports on whether students or staff were hit by the gunfire. The 38-acre main campus remained locked down throughout the afternoon. The bomb squad examined suspicious bags the gunman left behind and police searched for a possible second suspect.

Three women in a car were shot and wounded during what the Santa Monica police called a "series ofrandom encounters." One later died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Another woman was in critical condition and one was in serious condition..

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