Remembering the IHOP Shooting One Year Later

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

CARSON CITY, NV - It was exactly one year ago, a paranoid schizophrenic walked into the Carson City IHOP and started shooting, killing four people before taking his own life. On this somber anniversary, we are learning more about how Eduardo Sencion spent every moment of that rampage. In only 85 seconds, he changed the community forever.

September 6, 2011. The sounds and images of that day are unforgettable. One year later, the investigation is still open. But a major question is put to rest, as shown by a real-time power point video the Carson City Sheriff's Office put together.

"This presentation answers the question: why was no one able to react? They didn't have time to react," says Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

That's because the whole massacre took place in less than a minute-and-a-half. Sheriff Furlong showed KOLO 8 News Now the video.

In it, you can see a character representing 32-year-old Eduardo Sencion parking his blue minivan in the IHOP parking lot and getting out of the vehicle. The time says that it's 8:57 am.

"Immediately, he fires 30 rounds and empties his magazine," says Sheriff Furlong. "He reloads. Those 30 rounds went up into the air. He did not hit anything."

The video then shows the figure representing Sencion walking into the restaurant.

"Once inside, he goes immediately into the main dining area and begins shooting," says Sheriff Furlong.

He fires at the table where Florence Donovan-Gunderson was sitting with her husband, a disabled veteran. Sencion then turns and aims at a corner table.
"That table is where our National Guardsmen were sitting," says Sheriff Furlong, who explains that the Guard members had been getting ready to leave. Their tip was already on the table.

Sencion then turns and starts shooting at the tables behind him, before firing again at the National Guard members' table.

"He fires a total of 30 rounds inside the restaurant," says Sheriff Furlong. "He goes through the waitress area - and leaves the building. Twenty-seven seconds is all he was inside, he reloads his magazine, fresh ammo to the weapon... Goes into the parking lot and immediately attacks a patron who had just left the IHOP. Shoots her and then begins firing at a fleeing female who was running in front of the businesses that were across the parking lot."

That woman got away, perhaps provoking Sencion to walk toward his minivan.

"Shoots the vehicle, goes along the side and shoots himself," says Sheriff Furlong. "In a total of 85 seconds, this entire event was over."

But the effect the event has had on the community is lasting. And some questions will never be answered. For instance: why did Sencion shoot himself?

"We'll never know," says Sheriff Furlong.

The community came together that day, leaving cards, flags, and flowers for those who lost their lives. From the Nevada National Guard: Major Heath Kelly, Sergeant First Class Christian Riege, and Sergeant First Class Miranda McElhiney. Also, 67-year-old Florence Donovan-Gunderson, who was the wife of a man who had served in the Marines. He was one of five others shot and wounded that day.

These days, the makeshift memorial outside the IHOP is long gone. But a new stone monument stands in Mills Park as a permanent reminder of resolve and strength.

Last Friday, the city unveiled the obelisk at a memorial for the victims of the shooting. City Leaders held the event at the Pony Express Pavillion at Mills Park. More than 100 people showed up.

"I can't say enough about how our community comes together. You know, we may be 55,000 people in this community, but we are indeed a community where we pull together for each other," says Carson City Mayor Robert Crowell. "And that's exactly what's happened, here in Carson City.

While Sencion was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, autopsy results show that no drugs were in his body that day.

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