One fraternity member was killed and three others wounded in a fight that escalated into a shooting early Friday near a Greek-life dorm at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The suspected gunman, 18-year-old freshman Steven Jones, has been charged with first-degree murder and three felony counts of aggravated assault. Jones, who was taken into custody at the scene of the shooting, was later arraigned Friday.
The injured survivors — identified by the school as Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring — are being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center.
Freshman Colin Brough was killed in the shooting, the school said.
“We awake this morning to a terrible tragedy,” university president Rita Cheng said at a news conference. Cheng called the shooting “an isolated and unprecedented incident.”
According to NAU Police Chief Greg Fowler, “two separate student groups got into a confrontation” shortly after 1 a.m. Friday. “The confrontation turned physical,” Fowler said, and Jones “produced a handgun and shot four other students.”
Delta Chi’s international headquarters confirmed in a statement to The Washington Post that Brough and the three injured students are members of the fraternity.
Jones, the suspected gunman, is not a member of the fraternity, according to a Delta Chi statement.
Fowler said it was unclear whether the victims and the gunman knew each other. Nor, he said, was it clear what precipitated the confrontation.
Jones, the suspected shooter, was taken into custody without incident by campus police. “He stopped his action; everything calmed down as our officer arrived,” Fowler said.
In a statement, Ariz. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) said the “heartbreaking incident will impact many of our fellow citizens, and I ask all Arizonans to keep them and the family of the individual lost in their thoughts and prayers as they cope with this tragedy.”
School public relations director Cindy Brown told The Post that the shooting occurred in a parking lot outside Mountain View Hall dormitory, on the northeastern end of the Flagstaff campus. The all-Greek dorm houses “the majority of NAU Greek students,” according to the university.
Shortly after the shooting, the school advised residents of Mountain View Hall to stay indoors.
In 2011, the Delta Chi house in Flagstaff came under fire in a drive-by shooting. “Police say the frat house was pockmarked with bullet holes, but there were no injuries,” the Arizona Daily Star reported at the time. The newspaper added that “two other recent firearm-related assaults at the fraternity are also believed connected to drug sales there.”
The Arizona Republic reported in 2011 that:
Police have concluded that recent activities occurring at the Delta Chi house at 318 S. Humphrey’s St., which include aggravated assault and threats with weapons, stemmed from members of the residence selling illegal drugs, Sgt. James Jackson said.
Northern Arizona University is a public, four-year school of about 25,000 students, about one-third of whom live on campus. Students and visitors are not allowed to carry guns on campus, although Arizona law allows for firearms to be kept locked in their cars, said Fowler, the campus police chief.
Student Maria Gonzalez told the Associated Press that the gunshots sounded like firecrackers.
“I was studying for an exam so I looked out the window and see two people running, and that’s when I realized they weren’t fireworks they were actually gunshots,” she said.
“How am I supposed to feel safe where I’m learning?” Gonzalez added.
Cheng, the university president, said early Friday that the “campus is secure and classes will go on as scheduled.”
“We are sensitive to the tragedy, and we are asking the faculty to be sensitive to the needs of our students and their families,” she said.
But, she added: “This is not going to be a normal day at NAU. Our hearts are heavy.”
On Instagram, Jones occasionally photos of himself holding guns.
“It’s a full auto kinda day,” he wrote in one caption.
On a July 4 photo, in which he held a shotgun, Jones wrote: “‘Merica.”
The incident in Flagstaff came eight days after a lone gunman killed nine people on the Umpqua Community College campus in southwestern Oregon. The shooter in that mass slaying committed suicide as police approached, officials say. President Obama is traveling today to Roseburg, Ore., to visit privately with families of victims of the shooting.
Hours after the bloodshed in Flagstaff, Texas Southern University in Houston went on lockdown after a shooting.
This post has been updated.