TALLAHASSEE, Fla. ― A Florida State University alumnus and attorney shot three people at the school’s library early Thursday before being killed by police, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The official said the shooter was Myron May, who also graduated from Texas Tech University’s law school. The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the name.
The shooting happened about 12:30 a.m., with the sound of about half a dozen gunshots sending hundreds of students who had been up all night studying for exams scrambling for cover in the book aisles and barricading themselves in with desks amid screams from classmates.
“I ran for my life,” said Allison Kope, a freshman from Cocoa Beach, who was on the library’s first floor. “I ran right out the backdoor. My laptop and everything is still in there. It was shock. It was just instinct. You don’t think about anything else, you just go.”
Two people are hospitalized, one in critical condition and one in good condition, and one was released.
May’s Facebook page shows he posted mostly Bible verses and links to conspiracy theories about the government reading people’s minds.
Abigail Taunton, who runs a foster home in the Florida Panhandle, told AP that May was staying at a guest house she owns.
“He’s just a boy our kids grew up with that we let stay in one of our guest houses for a while,” she said. “He’s moving back home from Texas and we were trying to help him get on his feet.”
Records show May was licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico. Taunton said he was planning to take the Florida bar exam in February.
“We’re just all astounded. We had no idea that he would do something like this,” Taunton said. “Obviously, he was not in his right mind.”
She said she had known him since he was about 13 or 14 and that he ran cross country with her kids and stayed at her house a lot. She said he lived with his grandmother after coming out of a “bad situation” with his parents.
“He was having some financial issues and moved back home and decided he’d come back to Florida to work,” she said. “My heart’s broken. In a million years I wouldn’t have thought he’d do something like this. He was struggling, having decided that what he was doing out there was not good. He had some issues and just decided he’d come home.”
Police and FSU officials called the shooting an “isolated incident,” but have not released many details, including how far May made it into Strozier Library. FSU’s campus is located less than a mile from downtown Tallahassee and the state Capitol.
“This person just for whatever reason produced a handgun and then began shooting students in the library,” FSU Police Chief David Perry said.
The shooting prompted a campus alert that urged students to take shelter and stay away from doors and windows.
Sarah Evans, a senior from Miami, said she was inside the library and heard a male student say he had been shot. When she looked at him, he was on the ground with blood spreading on his pants leg.
Tallahassee and Florida State University police confronted the gunman just outside the library that sits in the middle of the campus and ordered him to drop his handgun, but he fired a shot at them and they unleashed a volley of shots, Tallahassee Police spokesman Dave Northway said.
Hours after the shooting, detectives could be seen inspecting the body of May, who was lying face down at the top of a ramp just outside the library. A baseball cap lay nearby.
FSU canceled classes Thursday but said they would resume today. The library was also to reopen today.
Florida State President John Thrasher, who took office earlier this month, was in New York City at the time of the shooting but has returned to campus.
Gov. Rick Scott had been in South Florida for a meeting with other Republican governors. He returned to Tallahassee where he met with Thrasher.
“The police investigation will answer many of the questions we are asking today, but just like any tragedy the ultimate question of why, we’ll never have an answer that satisfies those who loved ones have been injured,” Scott said.
Associated Press writer Jeff McMurray in Chicago contributed to this report.