Gunman Opens Fire in Watsonville Big 5

Big 5 employee said she was saying Hail Mary's as she dialed 911.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011  |  Updated 6:13 PM PDT
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Gunman Opens Fire in Watsonville Big 5

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A man apparently upset with the process of buying a gun returns to store and opens fire on customers and employees.

The crime scene that happened today in the Santa Cruz County city of Watsonville came right out of a network crime drama, except it was the real thing.

It all happened inside a Big 5 Sporting Goods store on South Green Valley Road.  Police there said a man who was initially turned away from buying a gun returned to the store armed with a bike cable and an electric saw.

Witnesses say he used the cable to lock the doors and then went directly to the gun department where he grabbed ammunition and tried to saw off a lock of a handgun. When that failed he grabbed a shotgun, loaded it and attempted to fire at the employees and customers in the store apparently at random. Customers said they think he got off six or seven shots, but no one was hit.

Police arrived on the scene and found just enough room to squeeze through the barred doorway. When officers saw what was going on they opened fire, killing the unidentified man.

"Before you knew it, there must have been 40 police officers with semi-automatic guns," witness Tony Roche told the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Watsonville police did not immediately release the gunman's identity or the motive for the shooting.

Lt. Terry Traub said it's unclear how many officers fired at the man or how many shots hit the gunman.

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