Seven dead in US campus shooting, no Indian casualty

February 15th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by admin  

(Third Lead)
By Parveen Chopra
New York, Feb 15 (IANS) Six students were killed and 16 injured when a gunman opened fire inside a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in suburban Chicago before shooting himself. There was no Indian casualty in the campus that has 862 international students, officials said. Four women are among those who died in the Thursday afternoon shooting and the condition of two of the wounded was critical, NIU president John Peters said at a news conference Thursday evening. One of the critically injured has also died since.

He said a graduate student was teaching an introductory geology class at about 3 p.m. in a large auditorium inside Cole Hall, one of NIU’s main classroom buildings, when the gunman burst onto the stage at the front of the room, armed with a shotgun and two handguns.

“The shooter just appeared from behind the screen in front of the classroom in an introductory geology class. According to eyewitnesses, it was a brief, rapid-fire assault,” Peters said.

He added that the gunman, who was dead “apparently from a self-inflicted wound”, was a former graduate student in sociology at NIU, but was not currently studying at the campus with 25,000 students, about 100 km west of Chicago. The university has 862 international students from 88 nations.

Ravi Kiran Mudunuri, president of the Indian Students Association at NIU, told IANS: “As far as the reports go, there is no Indian victim in this senseless tragedy. We have forwarded announcements to members of our organisation to stay calm and inform their parents of the current situation.”

The university has a 300-350 strong Indian students community.

Four of the deceased have been identified as Daniel Parmenter, 20, Catalina Garcia, 20, Ryanne Mace, 19, and Julianna Gehant, 32.

The assailant was described by several witnesses as a young man, apparently college-aged, dressed in black or dark clothes. He reportedly first fired the shotgun before turning to the handguns and inflicting several head wounds, according to reports.

George Gaynor, a geography student, who was in the lecture hall when the shooting happened, told the student newspaper, the Northern Star, that the shooter was “a skinny white guy with a stocking cap on”.

He described the scene immediately following the incident as terrifying and chaotic. “Some girl got hit in the eye, a guy got hit in the leg,” he said.

Another student, Edward Robinson, said the gunman appeared to target students in one part of the lecture hall. “It was almost like he knew whom he wanted to shoot,” he said.

University Police Chief Donald Grady said the police had not found any apparent motive.

All classes at NIU were cancelled Thursday night and the campus was closed Friday. Students were urged to call their parents “as soon as possible” and were offered counselling, according to the university website.

The incident followed another campus shooting on Feb 8. A woman shot two fellow students fatally before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge.

The worst campus massacre in the US happened at Virginia Tech university when last April a mentally disturbed South Korean American student killed 32 students and faculty before killing himself. Among the victims were an Indian student and an Indian American professor.

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