Lake Tahoe customer of Carson City shooter — ‘This came out of nowhere’


By Susan Wood and Kathryn Reed

The gunman in a massive fatal shooting at IHOP in Carson City Tuesday morning who injured seven people and killed five including himself gave no indication to his South Lake Tahoe customers and neighbors of the Mi Pueblo market that he was unstable.

The mood was solemn and one of disbelief Tuesday night as those who knew Eduardo Sencion, 32, of Carson City reflected on the tragic news.

“This is so devastating,” said Robin Carlson, who lives behind the store off Pioneer Trail. “This came out of nowhere.”

Customers of Eduardo Sencion's at Mi Pueblo are in shock. Photo/LTN

Customers of Eduardo Sencion's at Mi Pueblo are in shock. Photo/LTN

Carlson insisted she had seen no change in Sencion’s demeanor lately. Carlson and neighbor Patrick Lauzon had just seen Sencion, and they described him as being “himself.” Business has been steady at the store, but nothing would indicate that things were so bad he was about to snap.

She added that Sencion said business went well over the Labor Day weekend.

“He said it was great,” Carlson said. “And this store is vital to this community.”

A sign on the front door read: “Sorry we are going to be close for today.”

Carlson even recalled how Sencion would cover her purchases on occasion.

Monica Morales, who lives around the corner from the small store, grew up with the store over the last dozen years.

“Is this crazy, no?” she said, standing beside her children outside the storefront. “We just saw him (Monday). When I heard this happened, my stomach was sick,” she added, while rubbing her stomach.

The scene around the store Tuesday night was quiet, albeit a bit eerie as if something wasn’t right with the store being closed and word catching on that such a tragic shooting could have originated with such a fixture of the local community.

History of mental issues

Sencion has had mental issues since at least April 2000. That is when South Lake Tahoe police officers assisted with getting him committed to receive psychiatric care.

South Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler told Lake Tahoe News the police report is being given to Carson City officers to assist them with their investigation into the Sept. 6 shooting spree at the IHOP in Nevada’s state capital. Uhler would not release it to the media.

Officials with El Dorado County Mental Health Department in South Tahoe deferred comments to the Placerville office, which did not return calls Tuesday afternoon.

Sencion with his two brothers own Mi Pueblo market in South Lake Tahoe on Pioneer Trail and one in Stead.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Sencion’s brother, Gilberto Sencion Gonzalez, 46, said he arrived in South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento Tuesday afternoon to find the market closed.

“I feel very sorry about what happened,” Gonzalez told the RGJ. “I feel very sorry about those people. I’m trying to find out what happened.”

Sencion walked to the back of the IHOP with an AK-47 and then began shooting, according to officials. Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said at a 5pm press conference there is no apparent motive as to why the 32-year-old unloaded his weapon. He has no military background, though two who died were in the National Guard.

Two other guns were found in Sencion’s vehicle.

Chaos in Carson

While South Tahoe was quiet Tuesday, quite the opposite could be said for the scene in Carson City, where the morning started out with traffic stopped on Highway 395 on the south side of town and helicopters and ground ambulances evacuating the injured. The afternoon gave way to a massive display of news teams at a police command post behind the IHOP and the Wells Fargo Bank.

Media swarm the command area behind the Carson City IHOP. Photo/Susan Wood

Media swarm the command area behind the Carson City IHOP. Photo/Susan Wood

Nearby businesses were closed and the entire parking lot in front of Kohl’s was cordoned off as a crime scene. The shooting became the talk of the town, with state offices closing and nearby businesses taking a page from their own makeshift emergency manual.

Raley’s in Carson went on lockdown when an employee saw the gunman in the parking lot on a rampage. Shoppers were walking by looking bewildered while others stood with their hands over their mouths dazed in disbelief that such a huge crime could happen so close to home.

A bouquet of flowers was placed at the crime tape as a gesture of sympathy to the crime victims.

Western Nevada College in Carson City was spearheading a candlelight vigil starting at 8:30pm Tuesday at the capitol complex, at the statue of the fallen soldier.

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Comments (30)
  1. Nancy Hussmann says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    I think it is insensitive of Lake Tahoe News to publish the name of the business. As a small business owner in SLT, I can only imagine the devastation to the business that this association would have.

  2. Paul Johnson says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Oh please. If they were a large business owner would it matter? Should we not say it happened at IHOP, but just a pancake house? Read other publications in this town if you want to be sheltered from reality and the truth. GO LTN!

  3. Aaron says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    I agree with Nancy, publishing the business name and an accompanying photograph of the business is irrelevant and insensitive. The use of the IHOP name is something that is actually relevant to the incident, whereas the small business he co-owned is completely unrelated to what happened this morning. Any other news organization has had the common decency to leave this bit of information out, and LTN should have done so as well. There’s a difference between reporting and digging, and in this case LTN dug out some real nuggets of irrelevant facts.

  4. grannylou says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    This sad, sad story is another indication why persons with mental health issues need more help. It is something we cannot seem to grasp in our society. I think we all wish that there were more answers, but alas, it seems to be something we cannot get our arms around. Same with the young man in Mendocino!

  5. Paul Johnson says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    From the RGJ: The partnership papers for the Mi Pueblo Markets LLC list Eduardo Sencion as the registered agent for the company and Gilberto Sencion Gonzalez and Israel Sencion Gonzalez as managing partners. The business has locations in South Lake Tahoe and Stead.

    Channel 10: At the store tonight.

    Local publications should publish local news. GO LTN! This is news.

  6. dogwoman says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Thank you, Kae, for keeping us informed of local issues. This IS a local issue.

  7. Aaron says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Can anyone tell me WHY it’s relevant that the shooter owned this business? Does it relieve any grief from the families of the victims? Does it heal the wounds of survivors any faster? The only thing it does is provide speculation and small talk, neither of which are productive ways of healing after this incident and moving forward with our lives in a more meaningful way.

  8. Mog Man says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Why arent people focusing on the civilian victims!!!!??????

  9. dogwoman says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Aaron, this is NEWS. Is it really up to a reporter to help anyone “heal” and “move forward with our lives”? Please.
    It’s a tragic event. A mentally ill person was somehow allowed access to big dangerous weapons. Who What Where Why and How. Basic story telling, and we need to know it to prevent its happening again.

  10. Aaron says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Dogwoman-unfortunately the shooter’s ownership in a business does not fall under who, what, where, why, or how. By your own definition, the story should only consist of:
    Who: Eduardo Sencion
    What: Killed 3 people and wounded 8
    Where: IHOP and adjacent parking lot, Carson City, NV
    Why: TBD
    How: Ak-47 Variant
    And please, like knowing he’s a business owner or what business will prevent it from happening again.

  11. Aaron says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Unless it somehow turns out that his ownership in the business provided his motive for this tragic event, then all we are doing at this point is speculating…

  12. Another Mom says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    I googled his name early this afternoon and mi pueblo showed up on page 1 way before LTN reported it. The facts are out there and some may want to know–I did. That is the news’ job to report all the facts. Good job LTN. Peace to all involved in this horror.

  13. Honkylonk says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    If our uniformed military are going to be targeted continually perhaps it’s time to allow them to open carry sidearms. This perpetrator walked past other patrons to the back of the restaurant and shot all five unarmed National Guardsmen at one table… why???

    I know the perp was allegedly mentally ill, but what could have been his motive to shoot the Guardsmen?

  14. Parker says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    The nature of reporting is to make as much information public as possible. When a tragedy that’s of this magnitude, where’s it’s being reported nationally, has a local connection, a local publication should report it! Thank You LTN for always keeping us informed!

    And deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives!!

  15. Eric Taxer says - Posted: September 6, 2011

    Good Job on the reporting! The article truly brings a local feel to the tragic incident. It also “grazes” the issue of mental illness in our community and how it is not being addressed.

    Shouldn’t we, as a community, want to know the information that Lake Tahoe News provided? Shouldn’t we, as a community, want to know why the County Mental Health system failed an individual and the community as a result?

    There’s a problem here, folks. Time to wake up see it. This isn’t the first failure of the County’s system… But don’t we want this to be the County’s last failure?

    We need folks like Lake Tahoe News to start bringing these things to light and ask the hard questions that everyone else seems too timid to ask.

  16. Robert says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    The business has locations in South Lake Tahoe and Stead. Where is Stead ? is that a street, a town? The only “Stead” google maps shows is Reno Stead Airport

  17. dumbfounded says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    Of course, we all want the answer to the most important question: Why would someone commit a crime like this? However, there is often no reason behind the actions of criminals. What strikes me is that this individual was identified as being mentally disturbed by our own police department a very long time ago. What efforts have or had been made to ensure that he was not allowed to continue to be a threat to the community? Obviously, those efforts, if any, were sadly unsuccessful. That should certainly be a follow-up story.

    And, Robert, the story accurately says that the business had locations in South Lake Tahoe and Stead. Obviously, these are both cities. South Lake Tahoe is in California and Stead is in Nevada, just Northwest of Reno. I am absolutely certain that there are more notations in Google about “Stead” than the Reno Stead Airport. You have to take a little responsiblility for your “research”.

    God Bless our Troops and the families affected by this tragic event. Thanks for the good reporting, Kae.

  18. Honkylonk says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    A perpetrator’s age, residence, place of employment, ethnicity, country of origin and sometimes even religion are routinely reported in coverage of crimes… because it’s part of the story. Why should this case be any different?

  19. dogwoman says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    The history of mental illness angle is interesting. Apparently law enforcement made him get “help” 11 years ago. What’s gone on since then?
    If you act crazy, does that mean you are crazy? And how does that excuse evil deeds? What is the test for mental illness? Can it be proved or disproved?
    Yeah, I’m sorry for the perp’s family. But I’m a heck of a lot sorrier for the innocent people whose lives are forever changed by that “mentally ill” person.

  20. Hennie says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    Ok all this is important to some of us we do not know if he is a citizen just that he was born in mexico and has a passport. He also has another name Gonzales so who is he really an illegal maybe. Why did he do this we may never know but maybe homeland security will look at this and maybe secure our borders. wake up people we need to know what is going on so we can stop being victims.this was a very angry person to blame it on mental illness is a cope out. He ran a bussiness just fine filed banrupcy just fine. He committed a crime against american citizens pure and simple.

  21. Kurt Karst says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    According to Sheriff Furlong, Eduardo Sencion had a US Passport, which means that he was a US citizen. The issue of securing our borders is irrelevant to this crime.
    Although I don’t know if it is a characteristic of the Spanish language or the Mexican culture, I do know that many Hispanics incorporate their mother’s maiden name into their own.
    This speculation on his legal status is exactly why his established presence in the community is relevant. Kae has provided quotes from people who knew him and did not have any reason to suspect that he would do anything violent.
    We are all more comfortable believing that such an act could not happen here, and that the person committing it must be a “monster”, and that WE would have been able to identify them as such. The truth is that there are unhappy and unstable people around us each day. Mental illness or emotional disturbance is certainly no excuse, but anything we can learn about what led to this crime, may help prevent a future one. Wouldn’t it benefit us all to make mental health services more readily available to everyone?

  22. Tahoecalm says - Posted: September 7, 2011

    Thank you Kurt
    I think the more critical question is how did he obtain the weapons. If he purchased them why did no one check his mental health record, if they belonged to family members why were the guns not locked up?

  23. a soul with feelings says - Posted: September 9, 2011

    Aaron:Who do you think you are to judge anyone? You are not god or anywhere close to being so, we all feel the pain and the confusion of what has happened. The fact that he was an enployee at the market and that he help and always smiled and said thank you does not make him a bad person. The fact that he also had a mental illness is his fault. People that turn up to have cancer, can you judge them and call them bad people? This person was sick!!!! Just how the families of the victims are suffering for their loss, so is the family of Edurado. You didn’t know this person so stop making comments that hurt. He was a very friendly guy who always smiled at me and my children and every customer who stepped thru those doors.

  24. 30yrlocal says - Posted: September 9, 2011

    Kurt – Good points, but with budget cuts I’m afraid that people in need of help won’t get it.
    Honky – I don’t think carrying a side arm would have helped. This only took moments and who knows if they could have reacted that quickly.
    Soul – I’m sorry you lost your friend. People need to remember that a son and brother died as well.

    This whole is just so senseless and so sad, let’s not turn on each other when we all just need some extra understanding and hugs. There is so much stress out there with financial and job woes that I hope this incident makes people more aware of what their friends and family are going through. Let them know you care.

  25. dogwoman says - Posted: September 10, 2011

    “Honky – I don’t think carrying a side arm would have helped. This only took moments and who knows if they could have reacted that quickly.”

    Are you SERIOUS? Okay then, on the off chance that a trained military person wouldn’t have been able to nail this guy at SOME point during the ten minutes he was randomly murdering innocent people, you’re right. No sane, right thinking person, military or otherwise, should be carrying a gun in public. There’s a chance people would have been killed anyway. ARE YOU INSANE?

  26. dogwoman says - Posted: September 10, 2011

    The fact that none of the guardsmen, nor anyone else in the building, was armed GUARANTEED that the lunatic was able to maximum destruction. If he hadn’t finally decided to shoot HIMSELF, how many MORE would he have taken?

  27. Gen5020 says - Posted: September 11, 2011

    I am a bit concerned by some of our fellow contributors who do not believe that certain facts such as the name of the business where the gunman worked, should have been reported. Responsible journalism investigates the facts as thoroughly as possible and reports them in the most unbiased and objective fashion possible. Censoring news based on feelings is a risky business and is perfect for blogs and opinions but has no place in a journalistic outlet. Understanding the who, what, when, where, how, and why, must include all of the variables of the equation, not just those we deem – comfortable…