One dead, three wounded in NAU campus shooting
An 18-year-old student killed one person and wounded three others on the campus of Northern Arizona University early Friday morning. The suspected gunman, freshman student Steven Jones, was quickly arrested by campus police, NAU Police Chief Gregory Fowler said.
Jones was arraigned on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault Friday afternoon in a Flagstaff courtroom. He did not enter a plea. Bond was set at $2 million.
In a confrontation with other students in a residence hall parking lot, Jones brandished a handgun and fatally shot Colin Brough. Three others — Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring — were shot multiple times and were being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center, officials said.
"Our hearts are heavy," said the university's president.
The incident at the Flagstaff college's north campus was reported at 1:22 a.m. Police responded and detained the suspect by 1:22 a.m., an NAU statement said.
Emergency services were on the scene by 1:33 a.m. to assist the victims, the college said.
The suspect, who admitted to police that he shot the four other students, told police he had been punched and chased. From Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun:
According to the Associated Press, a court document states Jones told NAU police that several people approached him and two of his friends as they were outside a residence early Friday. He said a fight ensued and he was punched in the face. Jones said he was chased by several people as he ran to his car and then he yelled at them that he had a gun.
As two people approached him, Jones said, he shot both of them. Witnesses told police the victims were about 10 feet away. Jones said he used a flashlight affixed to the gun to illuminate the area before firing. Jones was arrested immediately after the shooting.
But authorities said Jones went to his vehicle to get his pistol and returned to the fight. Again from the Sun:
(Prosecutor Ammon) Barker called Jones’ story “self-serving” and told the judge it differed from eyewitness accounts. According to Barker, the defendant got into a verbal confrontation with members of a rival fraternity that escalated to a physical fight. The confrontation began on the city-side of Franklin Avenue, then crossed the street to the parking lot near Mountain View Hall on NAU’s campus.
“It was at that point the defendant ran to his car, retrieved his gun and then went back to the fight,” Barker told the judge.
The weapon has been identified as a .40 caliber handgun. None of the other young men appear to have been armed. Barker also said blood evidence suggests the vehicle was a “substantial distance” away from where the victims were shot.
“I just want to be clear that there is no indication of self-defense here,” Barker continued. “The defendant had retreated from the fight; he obtained a gun and then went back into the fray. It was at that point that he began firing at the victims.”
Brough died on the scene after being shot once in the chest and once in the shoulder. The three other victims were transported to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment. Barker said one of the young men was in critical condition, though he did not say which one.
"We are, of course, shocked and deeply saddened by the circumstances that bring us together this morning. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and our entire Lumberjack family," said NAU President Rita Cheng on Friday morning.
Counseling services were being made available to students, faculty and staff, Cheng said.
This from Reuters:
A university spokesman said the Arizona incident occurred in a parking lot next to a residence hall for Greek organizations - fraternities and sororities. The shots were reported at 1:20 a.m., officials said.
"We don't know the facts yet about what brought them together, or what caused the confrontation," Fowler said.
Delta Chi International Fraternity executive director Justin Sherman said the four victims were members of the fraternity but the alleged gunman was not.
Jones, who did not try to flee, was arrested by university police and is cooperating with authorities, Fowler said.
Guns are not allowed to be carried on Northern Arizona University's campus under Arizona law and Arizona Board of Regents policy, Fowler said.
The campus was secure and classes were to go on as scheduled on Friday, university president Rita Cheng told a news conference. Cheng called the incident "isolated."
"Our hearts are heavy," Cheng said.
About 20,000 students attend classes at the Flagstaff campus, according to the school's website.
"I join Arizonans from all across our state in praying for the victims of this morning's tragic shooting, their families and the entire Northern Arizona University community," said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican.
"My thoughts and prayers are with families of the person who was killed and the three others who were wounded," Republican Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain said in a statement.
McCain said he continues "to pray for the recovery of the injured, as well as all those in the NAU community who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy."
The shooting occurred hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Roseburg, Oregon to meet privately with families of nine people killed in a mass shooting at a community college last week.
Obama reacted to the Oregon killings by vowing to step up efforts to curb gun violence in the United States. Gun rights advocates said the Oregon shootings underscored the importance of the right of Americans to bear arms and defend themselves.
Just hours after the Arizona shooting, police said one person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at an apartment complex near the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, and a suspect had been taken into custody.