Details emerge of quiet, troubled IHOP gunman

Private funeral services will be held this weekend for two of the three Nevada National Guard soldiers killed in this week's attack at the IHOP restaurant in Carson City.

Nevada Guard Maj. April Conway says services are planned today for 35-year-old Maj. Heath Kelly, and Sunday for 31-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney. Both are from Reno.

The body of Master Sgt. Christian Riege of Carson City is being flown to Nebraska at the family's request.

The National Guard members were among four victims killed when 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion stormed the restaurant Tuesday and opened fire with an assault rifle. Also killed was 67-year-old Florence Donovan-Gunderson of South Lake Tahoe.

Seven other people were wounded.

Sencion, who had history of mental health issues, killed himself in the parking lot.

The 32-year-old store worker had been being treated with medication for longtime mental problems, investigators said.

But to friends and family, he was shy, friendly and respectful of the men and women who make up the nation's military, some of the very people he killed.

That emerging portrait of a quiet, approachable man who worked at his family's market in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., did little to answer the questions surrounding Tuesday's bloodshed, terror and grief in this community.

Why did Sencion, who did not have a criminal record, snap? How did he get the three guns found near his body Tuesday morning? And why did he shoot each of the uniformed National Guard members?

"It's almost as if he was a normal person who had a major psychological defect that was triggered by something," said Joe Laub, an attorney who has helped the Sencion family with legal concerns in the past.

Sencion provided no answers before he took his own life after gunning down 11 people. The dead included three uniformed Nevada National Guard members and a civilian woman. Two other Guard members were among the seven people wounded.

Investigators are slowly sketching a thin outline of Sencion.

"We are concentrating on the details of his life, which will include his medical records," Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong told The Associated Press. "Right now we are building a profile around him. Who is he?"

Sencion was on medication for mental troubles, but he did not have a criminal history and did not harbor a grudge against the military, Furlong said. At one point, Sencion even considered enlisting.

"He's been on medication for a long period of his life. And he was considered to be doing fine," Furlong said.

Furlong didn't know whether Sencion ever acted on his military ambitions but said Sencion's mental health history likely would have precluded his acceptance into the military of his adopted country. Sencion, the youngest of four brothers, was born in Mexico. He was a legal U.S. resident and had a passport, authorities said.

He had at least one previous encounter with the law. He was taken into protective custody by South Lake Tahoe police during a mental health commitment in April 2000. He fought with officers during the incident but was not charged.

IHOP officials said this week that it was too early to discuss the future of the restaurant.

"In the midst of this tragedy and all the pain and grief it has caused, it is highly premature to even think about the business. Along with the community and the nation, our focus is on remembering the innocent lives lost and the victims that are still recovering, and on helping our employees."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment