Police let some students leave UT Austin after gunman fires shots, kills himself in library

By Kelley Shannon, AP
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Police let some students leave UT Austin campus

AUSTIN, Texas — Police are letting students leave campus after a gunman opened fire then killed himself inside a library at the University of Texas at Austin.

The campus of about 48,000 students has been on lockdown for several hours.

Austin police Cpl. Scott Perry says students are being allowed to leave but that police are still preventing anyone from entering the campus. Perry says police are still searching for a possible second suspect.

Campus police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon says no one else was hurt in the shooting Tuesday morning at the Perry-Castaneda Library.

Investigators are trying to determine what sparked the gunfire.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A gunman opened fire Tuesday inside a University of Texas campus library then fatally shot himself, and police are searching for a possible second suspect, university police said.

A man fired an automatic weapon on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library early Tuesday, UT police spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

“He subsequently shot himself. He is deceased,” she said, adding that no one else was reported injured.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told a news conference that police also are investigating what he described as a second crime scene outside the library where shots also were fired.

Randall Wilhite, an adjunct law professor at the university, said he was driving to class when he saw “students start scrambling behind wastebaskets, trees and monuments,” and then a young man carrying an assault rifle sprinting along the street.

“He was running right in front of me … and he shot what I thought were three more shots … not at me. In my direction, but not at me, clearly not at me,” Wilhite said.

The professor said the gunman had the opportunity to shoot several students and Wilhite, but he did not.

Police were patrolling nearby buildings with bomb-sniffing dogs to hunt for the possible second suspect and make sure no explosives had been left behind.

“What we’re doing right is being methodical to eliminate the second suspect,” Acevedo said.

No shots were fired by law enforcement, Acevedo said.

Police and university officials urged students to stay indoors. The university canceled classes for the day.

“A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Police are searching for possible second shooter. Lock doors, do not leave your building,” the university said in an e-mail alert to students and staff.

Weldon said there was no report that the possible second suspect may have been armed, but that police are taking all precautions and keeping the campus locked down.

Investigators are trying to determine what led to the gunfire at the UT campus at Austin, which is one of the largest in the country with nearly 50,000 students.

Law enforcement from campus police, Austin police and the state Department of Public Safety rushed onto campus at the first reports of the shooting. Tank-like armored vehicles were positioned near the library. A DPS helicopter circled the campus overhead.

Jennifer Scalora, who works in admissions, was in her office about 100 yards from the library. She said police, SWAT teams and helicopters are still teeming around campus, but that they are really the only ones around.

“Campus is very quiet. You can barely see anyone moving,” Scalora said.

The Perry-Castaneda Library is one of several on the campus and is one of the busiest undergraduate libraries.

“The students did their part, they cleared the streets, they cleared the grounds in a very quick manner,” Acevedo said.

Tuesday’s shooting is not the first at the school.

On Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman went to the 28th floor observation deck at the UT clock tower in the middle of campus and began shooting at people below. He killed 16 people and wounded nearly three dozen before police killed him about 90 minutes after the siege began.

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