Houston: A fight between two people led to a shooting at a Texas community college on Tuesday and sent students fleeing for safety as officials placed the campus on lockdown, officials said.
A maintenance man was caught in the crossfire and wounded. One of the people involved in the fight had a student ID, and both people were wounded and hospitalized, Harris County Sheriff’s Maj. Armando Tello said. A fourth person also was taken to a hospital for a medical condition, he said.
The two people involved in the fight are considered people of interest, Tello said. Authorities said they weren’t looking for any other suspects, and they recovered one handgun at the scene.
The shooting that happened before 1pm sent students scurrying for safety on the Lone Star College System campus about 32km north of downtown Houston.
Some barricaded themselves in the rooms they were in, while others fled to nearby buildings. The shooting comes one month after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut, heightening security concerns at campuses across the country and fuelling a national debate about gun control.
President Barack Obama has proposed a package of federal gun-control proposals that are expected to face stiff opposition from congressional Republicans, who control the House of Representatives.
Many opponents of stricter gun laws argue that further restrictions will impinge on the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which protects the right of citizens to bear arms.
Gun control proponents counter that the Second Amendment allows for regulating gun ownership. In Texas, several school districts have either implemented or are considering a plan to allow faculty to carry guns on campus.
Guns are not allowed on college campuses, but the Texas Legislature this year may debate a bill that would allow them.
Mark Zaragosa said he had just come out of an emergency medical training class when he saw two people who were injured and stopped to help them. Officers had not yet arrived, he said.
“The two people that I took care of had just minor injuries,” Zaragosa told KHOU. “One gentleman had a gunshot to the knee and the (other) actually had an entry wound to the lower buttocks area.”
Richard Carpenter, chancellor of the Lone Star College System, said the shooting happened outside between an academic building and the library.
An employee called police and then herded the 30 to 40 people in the library into a small room and told them to crouch down, said Luis Resendiz, 22, who was studying on the second floor of the library.
Resendiz said the Connecticut elementary school shooting was the first thing he thought of when he heard gunfire and he wondered if a similar situation was happening on his campus.
“I didn’t think something like this could happen. You don’t think about it happening to you,” he said. Carpenter described the maintenance man as “in good shape.”
The man, said to be in his mid-50s, was listed in stable condition. The Lone Star Campus System is a gun-free zone, Carpenter said. State officials said the school had a plan to handle a shooting or other emergency situation.
“It has been safe for 40 years,” Carpenter said. “We think it’s still safe.” At least 10 police cars clustered on the campus’ west side as emergency personnel tended to the wounded and loaded them on stretchers. Students led by officers ran from the buildings where they had been hiding as police evacuated the campus.
Keisha Cohn, 27, who also is studying to be a paramedic, said she was inside a building about 50 ft away from where the shots were fired. She heard “no less than five” shots and started running.
She fled to the campus learning centre, which houses computers and study areas. Eventually, a deputy showed up and escorted people out, she said.