Gunman opens fire on Saipan; 5 dead

AP News
Posted: Nov 20, 2009 3:27 AM

A gunman went on a rampage on the Pacific resort island of Saipan on Friday, killing four people and wounding six others before fatally shooting himself, officials said.

Public Safety spokesman Jason Tarkong said two men, a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl were killed in a half-hour of violence. The dead were all local residents.

The six wounded included a 4-year-old local girl and five visitors from South Korea.

"The lieutenant governor and I are monitoring the situation closely and working with officials from (Public Safety) and the FBI and we will continue to keep everyone informed," Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said.

Authorities said the suspected shooter is a contract worker in his 30s or 40s from Asia, but did not provide his name or home country.

The shootings occurred in two different areas of the island, starting at 11:21 a.m. local time with a popular tourist spot in Marpi where the gunman fired a barrage of bullets from his white van at the Koreans. A 39-year-old man was critically injured with a gunshot wound to his back.

The suspect then drove to the Kannat Tabla Shooting Range where he killed two men in their early 20s and the two children. He also shot a 4-year-old girl, who suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was in critical condition.

His white van was discovered at Banzai Cliff, where police recovered three rifles.

Officials said the gunman's body was found along the edge off the cliff line near the vehicle with a .22-caliber rifle strapped around his shoulder.

"I want to assure the people of the commonwealth and all of our visiting tourists that the Department of Public Safety has the situation under control and that the individual responsible for these tragedies took his own life," Fitial said.

Saipan is a popular tourist destination among South Koreans, with more than 111,000 South Koreans visiting the island in 2008, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.

The U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is located about 3,800 miles southwest of Hawaii.


Associated Press writer Kwang-tae Kim contributed to this story from Seoul, South Korea.