07/25/2008

Arrest made in Ariz. community college shooting

Related article: 3 shot at Ariz. community college; 2 critical

By Jacques Billeaud and Chris Kahn
Associated Press

PHOENIX — A former student shot three people Thursday in a computer room at a Phoenix community college, injuring two of them critically, authorities said. The gunman fled but a suspect was arrested nearby.


Phoenix police officers stand outside South Mountain Community College after three people were shot Thursday, July 24, 2008 at the college in Phoenix. Officials say three people were shot Thursday afternoon at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, and two of them were critically injured. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The shooting at South Mountain Community College was part of a running dispute between the suspect and one of the victims, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.

"This was not a random shooter going around the campus shooting," Hill said, noting that two of the injured people were struck by stray bullets.

"I saw someone get punched and then I heard three shots after that," said student Yessenia Lara, 18. "Everybody basically ducked, and the shooter got away." She said the victims were yelling in pain.

The suspect was identified as Rodney Smith, who police said was a former student at the college. Details on when he attended the school were not immediately available.

Smith, 22, was arrested at a home a few miles away within a half-hour of the first 911 call about the shooting, police spokesman Reuben Gonzales said.

Also arrested at the home were Smith's parents and three other people on charges of interfering with an investigation and failure to obey a police officer, Gonzales said.

The victims were taken to a county hospital, said Mark Faulkner, a division chief for the Phoenix Fire Department.

A 25-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman were in critical condition, and a 17-year-old boy was in stable condition, Faulkner said. No other information on their injuries was available.

College spokesman Robert Pryce said the school was in lockdown for about an hour, meaning doors were locked and people weren't allowed to go in or out.

About 20 to 30 people were in the computer lab during the shooting and as many as 300 people were on campus, he said. The computer lab is open to the public.

An electronic sign outside the school said all classes were canceled Thursday and students could be seen leaving the campus calmly about 90 minutes after the shooting. Pryce said the campus would be closed on Friday, which is typical during the summer.

Situated at the base of Phoenix's South Mountain, the college has more than 8,000 students. Most students are seeking associate degrees and certificates of completion.

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