The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 23, 2013

Students cower as shots ring out at Texas college

HOUSTON — Luis Resendiz hid quietly in a small room with dozens of classmates after gunshots erupted in a courtyard on his college campus north of Houston.

There his mind quickly drifted to last month’s Connecticut elementary school massacre that left 20 children dead, wondering if another gunman was on a rampage on the other side of the door.

“I didn’t think something like this could happen,” said Resendiz, 22, who crouched in the room for about 20 minutes before being allowed to leave. “You don’t think about it happening to you.”

A volley of gunshots around noon Tuesday at Lone Star College prompted a lockdown then evacuation of the campus. A maintenance worker who was caught in the crossfire was sent to a hospital, along with two others who authorities believe were involved in the shooting.

Carlton Berry, 22, was arrested Tuesday and formally booked early Wednesday on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to Harris County Sheriff’s Office records. Berry will be arraigned Thursday. Bond is set at $60,000.

Berry was hospitalized, sheriff’s officials said. His condition, along with the conditions of the other person involved in the shooting and maintenance worker were not available.

A fourth person also was taken to a hospital for treatment of a medical condition, Harris County sheriff’s Maj. Armando Tello said, without describing that medical condition.

Authorities offered no details on what prompted the shooting. One of the two people involved had a student ID, and both people were hospitalized, Tello said.

At least 10 patrol cars clustered on the campus’ west side as emergency personnel tended to the wounded and loaded them onto stretchers. Students led by officers ran from the buildings where they had been hiding as authorities evacuated the campus.

Keisha Cohn, 27, was in a building about 50 feet away and began running as soon as she heard the shots.

“To stay where I was wasn’t an option,” said Cohn, who fled from a building that houses computers and study areas. All the students were eventually evacuated, running out of buildings as police officers led them to safety.

Mark Zaragosa said he had just left an EMT class when he saw two people who were injured, so he stopped to help them. He described the wounds as minor: One with a gunshot to the knee and another to the buttocks.

“We were carrying (one man) over to an open area and they (the officers) told us to put him down — with all weapons drawn — and they cuffed him right there,” Zaragosa told KHOU-TV.

The shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., heightened security concerns at campuses across the country. In Texas, several school districts have either implemented or are considering a plan to allow faculty to carry guns on campus. While guns are not allowed on college campuses, the Texas Legislature this year might debate a bill that would allow them.

Richard Carpenter, chancellor of the Lone Star College System, said the campus is a gun-free zone that “has been safe for 40 years.”

“We think it’s still safe,” he added.

The campus reopened late Tuesday afternoon, with classes expected to resume Wednesday.

Daniel Flores, 19, was in a second-floor tutoring lab with about 60 people when he heard a noise that sounded “like someone was kicking a door.”

Once he and others realized that sound was gunfire, they fled to the nearby student services center, where authorities kept them for about 30 minutes before letting them leave.

Cody Harris, 20, said he was in a classroom with 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.”

 

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