Two students were shot and wounded, one seriously, at Delaware State University early Friday, and the campus was locked down as police searched for a gunman, officials said.
Classes were canceled for the day and students were being kept inside.
“They’ve been directed to stay in their dorms,” university spokesman Carlos Holmes said. “We don’t know where the shooter’s at.”
At the university’s main entrance, swing-arm gates were down to prevent people from driving onto campus.
The students were shot near the Memorial Hall gymnasium around 1 a.m., according to a news release on the university’s Web site.
Holmes said the female student appeared to have suffered serious wounds. “They could be potentially life-threatening,” he said. The male student’s wounds were not as serious and he was hospitalized in stable condition, Holmes said.
Police hoped to find out more information once the victims were able to talk.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet, and that’s probably a big reason why the suspect is still at large,” Holmes told KYW-TV of Philadelphia.
Authorities did not know of a motive for the shootings, which were also being investigated by state police, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Holmes said.
He said he was not aware of any big parties on campus Thursday night, although there was a rally organized to honor the so-called Jena Six, six Black teenagers charged in a school fight in Louisiana.
“It was a very peaceful, very nice rally, very positive,” Holmes said, adding there was no reason to believe the rally was connected to the shootings.
Students were instructed to stay in their residence halls until further notice, and nonessential university employees were told not to report to work.
University officials informed students about the shooting with phone calls, a notice posted on the campus Web site and notifications in each dormitory. Holmes said Delaware State had improved the speed of its notifications following the shootings in April at Virginia Tech.
The Dover campus was surrounded Friday by groups of recreational vehicles belonging to NASCAR fans in town for this weekend’s races at the Dover Downs Speedway.
A commuter student who arrived Friday morning was barred from campus. Eduardo Rivera, 25, of Milford, said he hadn’t known about the shootings and was surprised by the media gathered outside the main gate.
“I thought it was about racing, or NASCAR, or something like that,” he said. “I’m shocked. I don’t expect to hear something like this when I’m trying to go to class — it’s weird.”
Rivera, a sophomore studying physical education and sports management, said he had felt the campus was safe.
At the start of the fall semester, the campus community held a memorial service for three students and an incoming student shot execution-style Aug. 4 as they hung out at an elementary school in their hometown of Newark, N.J. Natasha Aeriel, 19; her brother, Terrance Aeriel, 18, and Dashon Harvey, 20, were students. Iofemi Hightower, 20, had planned to attend Delaware State this fall. Natasha Aeriel, the only survivor, helped police identify six suspects who have been arrested.
Delaware State was established in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students. It had about 3,690 students last year. The 400-acre campus is in the northern section of Dover, across the street from the racetrack.
– Associated Press
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