Gunfire near a dormitory complex on the University of Maryland's College Park campus early yesterday morning injured one student, unnerved scores of others and sent police on a manhunt.
The victim, a 21-year-old Silver Spring man living on campus this summer, was shot in the buttocks just past midnight on Lehigh Road, campus police said.
Police believe that the bullet was fired randomly and that it is the first random shooting on the College Park campus since the early 1980s. Most crimes reported on campus recently have been burglaries or car thefts, according to police. An arson off campus killed one student in April.
In yesterday's incident, police believe only one shot was fired at the scene, in front of Susquehanna Hall, which houses the English department and sits amid six large residence halls on the southwestern edge of campus.
After hearing a gunshot, the victim felt pain but did not immediately realize he had been shot, authorities said. He called police from a campus emergency phone and was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center for treatment. The victim, whom police would not identify, was in good condition yesterday afternoon and was expected to recover fully.
The victim told police the person who shot him was among four to seven male teenagers who appeared to be too young to be students at the college. Authorities said they were last seen running in the direction of Baltimore Avenue.
Campus police said they have increased their patrols and are reviewing video from security cameras. "We want to be very clear with everyone that we take this incident very seriously, and we are willing to increase patrols to make this campus as safe as we can," said Maj. Cathy Atwell, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland police.
The shooting alarmed many of the students living on or near the campus. Students said Lehigh Road is a popular walkway for students going between their residence halls and the bars and nightspots on Baltimore Avenue.
"It's scary," said Caitlin Graham, 19, a junior from New York who lives in an apartment one block away from the incident and had walked along the street just hours before the shooting. "You hear about stuff like this happening all the time, but it doesn't really register. You just don't think it'll happen to you."
Matt Kaufman, 21, a senior from Columbia, lives on the third floor of a residence hall overlooking Susquehanna Hall and said he heard the gunshot outside his window. "It pretty much scared me a lot," he said. "I'd walked past where it was about an hour earlier."
The South Campus Commons complex has room for more than 1,800 students, but university officials could not immediately say how many were living in the residences during the summer.
News of the shooting spread slowly through the campus yesterday. University police e-mailed a crime alert to the community asking for help identifying suspects.
By midday, students living at the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house a few yards away from the site still did not know the shooting had occurred. When told about it, fraternity Vice President Steven Donlin, 19, said he was shocked.
"For a shooting to happen on campus with all this police. . . . We will get our parties busted, but to not get somebody caught for shooting somebody is unbelievable," said Donlin, a junior from Connecticut. He added that cars parked in his house's parking lot have been broken into several times recently.
On April 30, a fire in a student house just off campus killed Michael A. Scrocca, 22, a finance major. Police have not solved the case, which was ruled an arson.
The university is urging students to be mindful of their surroundings and reminding them of campus safety measures such as security escorts and blue-light emergency phones, spokesman George Cathcart said.
"We are on the edge of an urban area that does have a high crime rate," Cathcart said. "I don't think anybody wants us to build a moat around the campus, and we have to interact with the community.
"But then people have to understand what that means. We are on the edge of this area, and people need to be aware of their safety."