Two shot, killed at Ark. university; officials say campus safe

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Joe Lamb ~ Log Cabin Democrat
Conway and University of Central Arkansas police officers investigate the scene of a shooting late Sunday on the campus of University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark.

CONWAY, Ark. -- A shooting that left two students dead at the University of Central Arkansas did not appear to be random, authorities said Monday, as the school's president pronounced the campus secure.

Three people are being questioned but no one has been charged in Sunday night's shooting, which wounded a third person at the 12,500-student campus.

Though investigators have not determined a motive for the shooting, "It does not seem at this time that it was a random act," campus police Lt. Preston Grumbles said.

Interim president Tom Courtway canceled classes Monday but said they would resume today. "Our campus is safe," he said.

The victims were shot in an alley between a dormitory and the Snow Fine Arts Center. One victim died on the sidewalk; police said the others rushed into the dorm, where paramedics found them.

Freshman T.J. Frix said he heard five gunshots as he studied for a communication exam in his dorm room.

"I was like, 'Maybe it's just fireworks,"' the 18-year-old said.

But soon, two bleeding men lay in the hallway right outside his room. Frix said he saw the surviving victim writhing on the floor in pain from his leg wound. Two resident advisers performed CPR on the other man before paramedics rushed into the dorm, Frix said.

Frix said the resident advisers "both handled it really well. They stepped into action while everyone else" panicked.

Other resident advisers surrounded the rescuers to keep onlookers back, said Jeremy Rucker, a 20-year-old junior who saw the wounded men in the dorm.

University police Lt. Rhonda Swindle said one person being questioned turned himself in and another was pulled over by police. A university statement late Monday afternoon said a third suspect had been detained, but did not elaborate.

Swindle identified the dead as Ryan Henderson, 18, and Chavares Block, 19 -- both students. A nonstudent, Martrevis Norman of Blytheville, was shot in one leg and was released from a hospital after treatment.

Faculty and students received calls and e-mails through an automated system shortly after 9:30 p.m. Sunday warning them of the shooting and urging them to stay inside behind locked doors.

School spokesman Warwick Sabin said it was the first use of the university's new emergency e-mail and phone call system, purchased last year after a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people and himself.

Swindle said investigators would examine video captured by surveillance cameras, which also were installed after the Virginia Tech massacre.

Courtway said he thought police officers and the university's emergency alert system performed well, but he promised to conduct a thorough examination of the shooting to ensure students' safety.

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