Friends and family members said they think McCoy was trying to break up a fight between some friends and the suspect, identified by police as Frostburg senior Shanee Liggins, 23. None of them knew of any previous interaction between McCoy and Liggins, a business administration major from Waldorf.
“She was a nice, bubbly, energetic person who tried to do right by people,” Steven McCoy, a cousin of the victim, said on behalf her family. “It all feels surreal.”
Such deadly incidents on college campuses are considered a rarity. Yet Sunday’s attack was the second fatal fight between Frostburg students at an off-campus residence in the past year and a half, and it was the second fatal encounter involving two young women at a school in the University System of Maryland this academic year.
Investigators said that McCoy became embroiled in an argument involving several people in an off-campus residence about 1:30 a.m. and that the dispute spilled outside to Maple Street. There, the suspect allegedly “produced a knife and stabbed the victim,” according to a police statement.
Gerald Workman, who lives across the street from the yellow, two-story rental house, said he “heard a little noise out there” and got up to investigate. “I looked out the window, and the place was just surrounded with police officers,” Workman said.
Liggins was arrested and is being held without bond on charges of first- and second-degree murder. Police offered no further details on the sequence of events that led from a vocal altercation to alleged homicide.
Liggins lives in the Maple Street house, just off the Frostburg State campus, according to Jonathan Gibralter, the university’s president. McCoy lived in a freshman residence hall, where she served as a resident assistant, and was a visitor at the off-campus house early Sunday.
“This incident occurred off of our campus, where we have much less control over our students’ actions,” Gibralter said in an afternoon news conference, speaking to safety concerns. “This was not a random act, and we still consider this to be a safe community.”
McCoy, the second-oldest of five children, was a physics major at Frostburg, a regional public university with about 5,000 undergraduate students and a small graduate population. Most students hail from Maryland, many of them from Baltimore, its suburbs and the sparsely populated counties of Western Maryland.
She sang in the university chorale and in a gospel choir called Unified Voices Under God’s Dominion; she also sang at her home church, Empowerment Temple in Baltimore. McCoy joined the gospel group on campus after someone heard her rich alto in the student dining hall during her freshman year. Students from the ensemble gathered for a memorial service Sunday.