A student armed with a handgun killed another student in a “confrontation” at an Arizona university early on Friday that also left three others with multiple gunshot wounds, police said, in the latest shooting at a US college.
The deadly incident at Northern Arizona University (NAU) came hours before President Barack Obama was to meet families of victims of last week’s shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left nine people dead before the gunman killed himself.
The first emergency calls came through to police at 1:20am on Friday, when most NAU students would have been in bed at the sprawling university campus in the city of Flagstaff.
“Two of our student groups got into a confrontation. The confrontation turned physical and one of our students shot the other students. Four of our students were shot,” said Gregory Fowler, chief of NAU police.
“We have one student deceased and three others being treated at the Flagstaff medical centre”. The alleged shooter, named by police as 18-year-old freshman Steven Jones, was taken into custody and did not attempt to escape arrest. All the victims were male students.
It was not immediately clear what the confrontation was about, but Jones was cooperating with police, Fowler said.
NAU spokeswoman Cindy Brown told CNN that the incident occurred in a parking lot next to a residence hall on campus, which is a designated “gun-free” zone with 20,000 students.
Students described how they were awoken by a university text message warning them of the shooting or by calls from worried friends and family.
“You don’t expect that in Flagstaff. I never thought it would happen here”, one student, Megan Aardahl, told CNN, describing how her room was just yards from where the shooting took place. Aardahl said fellow students frantically contacted one another.