Calif. killings highlight dangers on campus
SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose State University students anxiously awaited details Wednesday about a shooting at a campus parking garage that left three people dead, including the suspected gunman. Police were investigating the incident as a murder-suicide.
School officials did not release a possible motive or said if the two males and one female were students at the school. They hope to release more information on Thursday.
The lack of information made some students nervous.
"You just don't expect anything like this happening because we're on a college campus and it's supposed to be safe," sophomore Alex Johnson, 19, said as he stood near the six-story parking garage where the slayings occurred Tuesday night.
University spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said Wednesday the three people have what she described as a "university affiliation." She said their names have not been released because officials have been unable to track down the next of kin of one of the victims.
"We're still looking into how they knew each other, what their relationships were," Harris said.
Harris said that was a male and female inside a car and a third individual outside the vehicle when shots were fired on the third floor of the garage around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. The first officers on the scene recovered a handgun and quickly determined it wasn't random and highly unlikely anyone else was in danger, she said.
The slayings are believed to be the first shooting deaths in the 150-year history of the 30,000-student Northern California campus.
The garage was in full use on Wednesday as vehicles entered and exited. Passing students could be heard pointing up at the lot and murmuring about the shooting.
Hannah Myles, 22, a junior who lives right across the street from the garage said Wednesday that she heard about 10 shots Tuesday night but thought they were firecrackers because kids play a lot around campus.
Myles said she left and when she returned three hours later, a swarm of squad cars blocked off her street. Investigators didn't leave the area until around 4 a.m. Wednesday, she said.
About a block away, student Marc Gagnon said the killings were the talk across campus.
"It would be a relief to know what happened exactly," said Gagnon, 27, an exchange student from Montreal.
The garage isn't far from the International House where Gagnon lives. He said he saw as many as 20 squad cars outside the structure in the hours after the shootings.
Students and faculty who had signed up for an emergency notification system implemented after a troubled student at Virginia Tech massacred 33 people in 2007 received messages about the shooting within a half-hour of officers' arrival, Harris said.
But some students said they didn't hear about the shootings in a timely manner. Harris said at no point did authorities feel that the campus was in danger.
"This is an unprecedented situation for San Jose State," Harris said. "The message we are trying to imply is this is a safe place and this is an isolated incident."
Sophomore Sergio Price, 20, said he was still in shock after hearing the unsettling news while preparing for next week's final exams.
"What timing, huh?" he said.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press
- School Violence