NIU shooter had trace amounts of drugs in system

March 15, 2008
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter/

Traces of nicotine, cold medicine and an anti-anxiety drug were found in the body of a man who killed five students in a Northern Illinois University classroom last month, authorities said Friday.

Northern Illinois University released the results of toxicology tests and an autopsy of Steven Kazmierczak, a former NIU student who opened fire in a lecture hall on Feb. 14.
Steven Kazmierczak
(AP file)

The tests found less than .025 micrograms of anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, in Kazmierczak’s bloodstream.

Tests also found trace amounts of nicotine and cold medicine, benzodiazepine and pseudoephedrine.

Experts said it was unlikely that the combination or any one of those substances individually would cause someone to engage in violent behavior.

“This combination of drugs in his system could have had no effect whatsoever on his mental status,” said Angelos Halaris, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Loyola University Medical Center. University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist John Davis served on an FDA committee a while back that investigated a drug similar to Alprazolam and found no evidence it caused violence.

In interviews with CNN, Kazmierczak’s girlfriend said he had been taking Prozac, Ambien and Xanax, but had stopped taking the Prozac in the weeks before the shooting.

The autopsy found that Kazmierczak died of a “contact-range gunshot” wound to his mouth, which caused skull fractures and laceration of the brainstem.

The coroner said that four of his victims — Catalina Garcia, Ryanne Mace, Daniel Parmenter and Julianna Gehant — died of single or multiple gunshot wounds. Autopsy results for Gayle Dubowski were not released by the school.

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