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    Gunman's Friendly Exterior Masked Troubles In His Past

    3:48 PM, Feb 16, 2008   |    comments
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    A troubled past for a 27-year-old man who fatally shot five students and himself at Northern Illinois University Thursday went undetected even by some of those close to him. N.I.U's president says Steven Kazmierczak had a "very good academic record" and no record of trouble before his graduation last year. Former professor Jim Thomas describes him as "the most gentle, quiet guy in the world," with a "passion for helping people." Thomas says Kazmierczak did confide in him once about "a kind of incompatibility discharge" from the Army in 2002. Thomas says Kazmierczak told him it wasn't for any behavioral issue but he was concerned it could be a "stigma" on his record. There's also word that he spent more than a year at a Chicago psychiatric treatment center after high school. A former staffer says his parents placed him there because he had become "unruly" at home. Police say Kazmierczak had become erratic in the past two weeks after he stopped taking his medication. The manager of a motel near Northern Illinois University says the gunman behind Thursday's campus shooting checked into a room just three days before the deadly rampage. Kazmierczak was last seen at the Travelodge on Tuesday, according to the manager. Authorities found a duffel bag in the room Friday with three zippers glued shut. A bomb squad safely opened it and the Chicago Tribune reports that investigators found ammunition. The motel manager says Kazmierczak also left a laptop computer behind. It was seized by investigators.

    (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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