3 Shot During Argument At Houston-Area College

8:00 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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Emergency personnel transport a person at Lone Star Community College North Harris Campus on January 22,(Photo: KPRC via AP)

HOUSTON, Tx. (USA Today) -- Three people were shot at a community college north of Houston during an argument between a student and another man Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Both men -- at least one of them a student -- were hospitalized after the altercation at Lone Star College-North Harris, about 20 miles from downtown Houston. A maintenance man suffered a leg wound from what the sheriff's office said was "crossfire." One person was reported in critical condition.

A college spokesman said the shooting occurred about 12:20 p.m. CT (1:30 p.m. ET) between the library and another building, sending students scurrying for cover.

A woman carrying a student identification was hospitalized with what was described as "a medical condition." Earlier reports indicated that someone has suffered a heart attack.

At the time, about 10,000 students were on campus, one of six that serves the 90,000 students enrolled in the community college system.

The school was evacuated and closed for the rest of the day, but will reopen for classes Wednesday, the school said.

One of the men involved in the argument was taken into police custody at the scene. A law enforcement source told KHOU-TV that the second suspect surrendered at Northwest Medical Center about 2:30 p.m.

"We found that the incident was not an active shooter incident but was an altercation between two individuals," Harris County Sheriff's Maj. Armonda Tello said at a news conference. "One of the individuals did have a student identification. During the altercation, there was a maintenance man that was injured and shot due to crossfire. Another individual at the scene was transported (to) the hospital for a medical reason. She had a medical condition,"

Tello said the two men in the hospital are considered "persons of interest" and are being questioned by police but have not been arrested.

"This is all still under investigation," he said.

Earlier KHOU- quoted student Brittany Mobley as saying "two dudes basically get into an altercation" and one shot the other.

The station quoted one of its campus reporters as saying one of the injured was taken from the library while apparently handcuffed to a stretcher.

Reginald Neal said his nephew, Jody Neal, 24, was one of the wounded.

"All I know he got shot three times. That's all I know," he told KPRC-TV. "He got shot in one of his arms, in the stomach and the leg."

"He was sitting in the study room. There (were) three people on the computer and a guy walked up the stairs and opened fire on him," said Stacy Neal, Jody's sister. "They said it was just one guy that came in with a gun."

Mark Zaragosa spotted two victims when as he left an EMT class and stopped to help before police arrived.

"The two people that I took care of had just minor injuries," he 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 campus is a "gun-free" campus but not every student is checked to see if they're carrying weapons. It was the first such incident like in the college's 40-year history, he said.

Cody Harris, 20, said he was in a classroom with about six or seven other students waiting for a psychology class to start when he heard eight shots. He and other students looked at each other, said, "I guess we should get out of here," and fled.

"I was just worried about getting out," Harris said. "I called my grandmother and asked her to pick me up."

KPRC-TV quoted a student, Amanda Vasquez, as saying she heard "5 or 6" shots while sitting in English class. She said students quickly scrambled, hiding under desks.

An alert on the college's website called on students, faculty and staff "take immediate shelter where you are."

Aerial footage from local television stations showed police cars and ambulances parked on the campus. Emergency personnel could be seen tending to people on stretchers, while others ran from a building led by officers.

Four nearby schools - Nimitz High School, Nimitz Ninth Grade School, Dunn Elementary School, Parker Intermediate School - were placed on lockdown in the immediate aftermath of the Lone Star College shooting, said Mike Keeney, a spokesman with the Aldine Independent School District.

The schools are located less than a mile from the Lone Star College campus where the shooting occurred, he said. The lockdown lasted for about three hours and impacted some 4,600 students, he said. Extra security guards were dispatched to the schools.

The schools reopened around 3:30 p.m. CST, and students were allowed to leave, Keeney said. "You never take anything like this lightly," he said.

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