DOVER, Del., Sept. 21 -- The Delaware State University police chief confirmed Friday afternoon that the gunman who shot two students shortly after midnight was a student himself.
"This was not an act of terrorism. This was not a crazed gunmen who found his way onto campus," said campus police chief James Overton. "This was a Delaware State student who caused this action."
The injured students, a man and a woman, were both 17 years old and from the Washington area, Overton told reporters this afternoon. The woman has been identified as Shalita Middleton, who is from the District. Her identity was confirmed by a D.C. public school official. The male student's identity has not been confirmed.
The male is in stable condition after being shot once.
Middleton was shot twice and is in serious condition, Overton said.
The two students had recently left the campus's Village Cafe as part of a group of eight to 10 students when they were shot, Overton said.
Overton said campus police are being aided by Dover police to secure the campus as they search for a student they believed was involved in the shooting near a campus gymnasium before 1 a.m., university officials said.
The police chief, who held two briefings for reporters this afternoon, said four to six shots were fired in the incident, but he did not give any motives for the shooting.
He said officials are interviewing one person about the shooting but still searching for another. Both are students, Overton said.
The injured students were taken to local hospitals, Overton said.
Middleton suffered a "traumatic wound to the abdomen," John Wilson, the deputy chief of Kent County Emergency Services, told the Associated Press.
University President Allen L. Sessoms said he has spoken with the families of the victims.
"We've worked really hard to make Delaware State University a safe campus," said Sessoms, who has been president since 2003. He noted that campus staff live in student housing and that campus police are ever present.
"This is a case of our students making very poor choices and acting incredibly badly," Sessoms said.
The shooting, on a normally quiet campus 95 miles east of Washington, triggered a fast and extensive response by campus officials, who said they prepared for such a scenario following the shooting rampage last spring at Virginia Tech.
Classes were canceled for the day, non-essential staff and commuter students were told to stay away and students living on campus were instructed to remain in their dormitories, school officials said.
University spokesman Carlos Holmes said the lockdown affected about 1,2000 young people living in dormitories and an apartment complex for upper-level students. Special arrangements were made to get students to the cafeteria for meals and a protocol was established for students wishing to leave campus for the weekend.
Sessoms said the campus would reopen Saturday to accommodate previously scheduled events. Only the main gate was open Friday evening.
"We put notices in the dorms, we put notices on our
Ryan Robinson, a freshman, from Bear, Del., said he heard the shooting. He had finished writing a paper and had climbed into bed when "I just heard three gunshots out of nowhere." He said he rolled off his dorm bed onto the floor. "Three seconds later" cops were there. Emboldened by police presence he peered through his window. "You just saw everybody running to their dorms, trying to get out of the way . . . maybe a 150 people were outside trying to see what was going on."
In the chaos he saw the male victim on the ground. He saw a group of students pick up the wounded male student and carry him to a dormitory. He didn't see the female victim.
Robinson said his "initial reaction was to just stay in the dorm. I just wanted to stay low, get out of the way."
Minutes after the shooting he said he heard a knock at the door. He immediately thought of the shootings at Virginia Tech and announced, "I'm not going to open the door." The person knocking identified himself as the dormitory's resident assistant, and Robinson opened the door.
Robinson was leaving campus with his grandmother, who had arrived to pick him up.
Delaware State student Alex Bishoff, 20, a freshman from the District, told AP he thought that university officials acted properly. "I think they handled it pretty well," said Bishoff, who said he was in his dorm room when he heard five gunshots.
"Immediately, I'm thinking the Virginia Tech thing," he said, noting that officials were warning students within about five minutes to stay in their dorms.
At Virginia Tech, where a lone gunman killed two people in a dormitory, then fatally shot 30 others in a classroom building two hours later, university officials have been sharply criticized for failing to lock down the campus and alert students after the initial shootings took place. A state-commissioned review of that incident urged the university to improve its emergency communication and alert systems.
Delaware State officials said the two students were shot at 12:54 a.m. near Memorial Hall, a complex that includes both the campus gym and athletic department offices.
Anyone with information about the shooting was asked to contact university police at 302-857-6290 or the agency's anonymous TIPS Line at 302-857-7918.
There were no unusually large or boisterous parties Thursday night on campus, Holmes told the Associated Press. Earlier in the evening, he said, there had been a "peaceful . . . positive"
Delaware State is a historically black university founded 117 years ago as the State College for Colored Students, a land grant college for agriculture and mechanical arts. In addition to the 400-acre main campus in Dover, it has satellite programs in Wilmington, Del., and Georgetown, Del.
About 3,700 students are enrolled at the university, including many from the Washington area.
Delaware State received nationwide publicity this summer when three of its students, and a student planning to enroll in the fall, were shot execution-style on a Newark, N.J., playground near their homes.
Three of the four were killed. The shootings were not linked to the university.