FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A confrontation between students in a parking lot at Northern Arizona University turned deadly overnight Friday when, police say, a freshman pulled a gun and shot four male students — killing one.
What led the suspect, identified by university police as Steven Jones, 18 — to open fire around 1:20 a.m. Friday remained unclear. University police Chief Gregory T. Fowler said Jones was cooperating with investigators.
The identities of the slain and injured students have not been released, and it was not immediately clear what the condition of the injured was. They are being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center.
Fowler said it appeared the victims had been shot multiple times.
Delta Chi fraternity said Friday that some members of its Northern Arizona University chapter were involved in the shooting, but that it did not have details about their conditions. The shooting, the fraternity said, “was not a chapter-related incident.”
University President Rita Cheng said the school had experienced “a terrible tragedy.”
“This is not going to be a normal day at NAU,” Cheng told reporters. “Our hearts are heavy.”
Students, appearing weary and shocked, attended the news conference on the shooting. Some questioned why it took more than an hour after the shooting for text notifications warning of danger to go out to the university community.
Junior Megan Aardahl said she awoke to text messages from the school and her family checking to see if she was OK. She and other students are rattled by the incident, she said.
“There’s a huge sense of community here, so everyone’s just trying to like reach out and make sure everyone’s OK, but it’s a little anxious not knowing who’s involved,” she said.
Fowler said he couldn’t immediately explain the messaging delays but said officers sent initial alerts out of an abundance of caution even though the situation was under control and there was no danger to students.
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, issued a statement on the shooting Friday morning.
“My thoughts and prayers are with families of the person who was killed and the three others who were wounded in the horrific shooting on the campus of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff early this morning,” McCain said. “I appreciate the efforts of all state and local law enforcement officials, first-responders and school administrators, and continue to pray for the recovery of the injured, as well as all those in the NAU community who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
Family Assistance Center has been set up in the ballroom of 1899 Bar & Grill, 307 W Dupont Ave. Long distance parents may call 928-523-0007.
— NAU (@NAU) October 9, 2015
The shooting comes the same day President Barack Obama is set to visit Roseburg, Oregon, and the families of those slain in the October 1 massacre at Umpqua Community College.
The gunman in that case, Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people before killing himself, according to police.