An 18-year-old freshman at Northern Arizona University opened fire on a group of students after a late-night conflict in a parking lot, leaving one student dead and three others injured, university officials said Friday.
The shooter, identified by campus police as Steven Jones, surrendered his handgun to campus police and was taken into custody not long after the 1:20 a.m. incident, authorities said.
“He stopped his action with his handgun and everything calmed down for a few minutes as our officers arrived,” campus police chief Greg Fowler told reporters in Flagstaff.
The condition of the three injured students was not known, but Fowler said “it would be safe to say [they were shot] multiple times.”
All of the victims were male, he said.
Maria Gonzalez, a student at the university, told the Associated Press she heard the shots but did not initially realize it was gunfire.
“I was studying for an exam, so I looked out the window and see two people running, and that’s when I realized they weren’t fireworks, they were actually gunshots,” she said.
“How am I supposed to feel safe where I’m learning?” she said.
The incident occurred outside Mountainview Hall dormitory, but authorities said they could not immediately say what led up to the confrontation.
“We don’t know the facts yet about what brought them together, or what caused the confrontation,” Fowler said.
Like other Arizona campuses, Northern Arizona University does not allow students to carry guns on campus.
“Arizona law allows you to have your gun in a car in a locked compartment on campus. That’s where it has to stay. You cannot carry it around on campus,” Fowler said.
He said he did not know whether the gunman had the weapon in his possession already when the confrontation first broke out.
“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,” US Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement.
“All Arizonans have the #Flagstaff community in their hearts today,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Twitter.
The shooting comes as President Obama is scheduled to visit Roseburg, Ore., where eight students and a teacher were shot and killed last week at Umpqua Community College. The Oregon gunman committed suicide after a shootout with law enforcement, authorities said.