Detectives ID suspect in shooting that injured 3 at Lone Star College
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A fight between two people erupted in gunfire Tuesday at a Houston-area community college, catching a maintenance man in the crossfire and leaving students and others cowering in classrooms.
No one was killed, but the volley of gunshots heard just before 12:30pm sparked fear of another campus massacre less than a month after 26 people were killed at elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Authorities one of the two people involved in the altercation had student identification. Late Tuesday, detectives identified the alleged shooter as 22-year-old Carlton Berry, but did not specify whether he was the one with the student ID. Berry has been charged with aggravated assault, but is still at a hospital being treated for a gunshot wound.
According to Alan Bernstein with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the other person involved in the fight also was shot and taken to a local hospital. He says both of them are being treated under armed guard by deputies, pending more possible criminal charges.
A third person, identified as a maintenance man, was accidentally hit by gunfire. He was taken to Ben Taub Hospital. A woman, uninvolved in the shooting, was taken to an area hospital for a medical condition.
We're told two of the shooting victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds, but were conscious when they arrived at Ben Taub Hospital. Both were taken into surgery in what's being called 'relatively serious condition.'
Student Luis Resendiz, 22, hid quietly in a small room with dozens of classmates after the gunfire rang out. All he could think about was the shooting in Connecticut last month.
"I didn't think something like this could happen," said Resendiz, who crouched in the room for about 20 minutes before being allowed to leave. "You don't think about it happening to you."
"There was a lot of blood in the floor and one guy inside," a Lone Star College student told us. "I think he was shot in the leg. He was on the floor, but he wasn't dead."
"Panic, panic, panic. Some people were yelling don't push because someone did fall," a Lone Star College student named Keisha told us. "It hit home. It's serious. What you see you on TV going in other states, other campuses, other schools, you always say, 'Oh, I'm praying for the families, or I'm praying for those involved.' When it happens so close to home, it makes you think, it could've been me. I was however many feet away from being outside. The gunshots were so loud, I still don't know how close to my physical being."
The Lone Star College North Harris campus was evacuated and closed for the remainder of the Tuesday, but officials say the campus will reopen on Wednesday. Staff and students are advised to check LoneStar.edu for further updates on campus operations.
"There were teachers on every door and they told us to leave. They just kept telling us to leave, go home get into your vehicles," student Jasmine Thomas said.
Students have told Eyewitness News they heard five to six shots. One girl said sounded as if they occurred outside, in an area between the library and the cafeteria. Other students say they saw a wounded person in the library.
"I just don't know what to think. I come here to school and once you hear that, there's a lot of people that's scared," a Lone Star College student named Sharon said.
In a statement issued late Tuesday night, the Lone Star College System says all its 170 police officers and security personnel have been trained for such emergencies and the Office of Emergency Management followed contacted students via text messages, e-mail, web, voice messages, and personal announcements.
Aldine ISD had put four campuses near Lone Star College on lockdown during the investigation -- Dunn Elementary, Parker Intermediate, Nimitz Ninth Grade Campus and Nimitz High School. At about 3:30pm Tuesday, that lockdown was lifted and students were dismissed. All after-school activities and athletics involving Nimitz High School were cancelled for Tuesday afternoon and evening.
YMCA staff locked down their programs located on the Lone Star College campus. They operate pre-school, child watch and after school care sites at that location. There were 17 children ranging in age from 18 months to four years in the pre-school and child watch programs at the time. Parents were allowed to pick up their children. All students and staff are safe.
The University of Houston system went on high alert as a precaution in the wake of the shooting, though there was no security threat there.
A number of law enforcement agencies are investigating this shooting, including the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Houston Police Department, ATF and FBI.
Governor Perry has been briefed on the situation and his office is in contact with state law enforcement. A staff member says the governor's thoughts and prayers are with those who have been impacted.
The Lone Star College System has an enrollment of 90,000 students and six college campuses, according to its website. Its North Harris campus is about 20 miles north of downtown Houston.
The following is a statement from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:
- "All Texas schools must be places of safety and learning. Lawless shootings on campuses will not be tolerated and should meet swift justice. Texas will do all it can to make the school environment safe for students, teachers and administrators.
Today's shooting is an example of the critical importance of school safety plans and emergency drills in all schools. Having a plan and practicing that plan can save lives when seconds count. We do know that Lone Star College submitted their safety and security plan to the Texas School Safety Center, confirming the campus had a critical incident plan in place.
I've instructed our Crime Victim Services Division to immediately make contact with the school and with families involved to offer whatever assistance we can provide."
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