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[Updated] Suspect kills his vocational teacher at point-blank range; 'He could have killed the whole class,' a fellow student says

February 24, 2011 |  6:33 am

 

A student at a downtown L.A. vocational school pulled out a semiautomatic weapon and killed his instructor at point-blank range as others in the security-guard class looked on in horror, witnesses and police said.

The shooting occurred Wednesday afternoon during a class. The gunman briefly left his classroom at a downtown Los Angeles vocational school, then returned and immediately opened fire, authorities said. [Updated at 7 a.m.: The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Law Thien Huynh.]

The victim was identified by friends as 44-year-old Roberto Herrera. He worked as a security guard and had been teaching a class on the subject at the Coast Career Institute for the last three years, LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Thirteen students were in the room when the suspect returned and began shooting, Vernon said. One other student suffered a slight injury.

After the shooting, the suspect walked out of the classroom, dropped the gun and left the building, authorities said. Witnesses gave emergency dispatchers a description of the suspect, who was spotted smoking a cigarette at Hill Street near 14th Place, Vernon said.

The man did not immediately comply with orders from police to surrender, Vernon said, choosing to continue to take drags from his cigarette. After a few minutes, he gave up without incident.

The motive of the shooting was unclear but officials believe the instructor was the intended target.

After the shooting, half a dozen students and an instructor stood outside the school building, which was cordoned off with police tape.

One man standing nearby who did not want to be identified described the victim as “one of the nicest guys ever. It was just a random act.” 

Witnesses later told KTLA News that the instruction was a caring person who did not have any issues with the alleged gunman.

"He could have killed the whole class," one student said.

RELATED:

Suspect briefly left security guard class before returning and opening fire

Shooting at L.A. vocational school occurred during security guard class, police say

Student kills instructor during security-guard class at downtown L.A. vocational school

-- Andrew Blankstein and Ann M. Simmons

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