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Crossroads natives reflect on shooting

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Aug. 13, 2012 at 3:13 a.m.

Texas State troopers and Brazos Valley lawmen watch as an ambulance believed to be carrying one of their downed fellow officers speeds off to a hospital in College Station, Texas, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012. Police say at least one law enforcement officer and one civilian have been killed in a shooting near Texas A&M University's campus. Assistant Chief Scott McCollum says the gunman also was shot Monday before being taken into custody.

Amy Melzow never pictured College Station as a place that would make national headlines as the scene of a shooting.

"You always think it'll never happen to you, to your community, and then it does," Melzow said. "There's really no way to explain how you react. It's really mind blowing."

Melzow, a Victoria native, is a student at Texas A&M University in College Station. The university is tightly tied to the community, and Melzow has gotten to know the people within that community well during her time as a student. Working in a local restaurant, she knew Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann, one of three people killed in a shootout on Monday.

Bachmann was at an off-campus house near A&M's football stadium when the gunman opened fire. He and two others, including the gunman, were killed, and four others were injured.

Now, Melzow and others who know College Station as a quiet community are reeling in the aftermath of a shooting in this quiet community.

Chris Akins also grew up in Victoria and graduated A&M in 2002. He described the town as a big family, a place people are close and everyone keeps an eye on each other.

"It's a tough thing to imagine happening in College Station," Akins said. "It's surreal that anything like this could happen there."

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor graduated from Texas A&M and his son is attending the university now. His son received a "maroon alert" from the university's alert system, informing him of the shooting and warning students to stay away from the area. The alerts have been in place since the Virginia Tech campus shooting in 2007 and once he had been alerted, O'Connor's son quickly let his dad know he was all right and wasn't anywhere near the scene.

In addition to his personal ties, O'Connor has known law enforcement officials in the area for a long time. He plans to send a detail from the Victoria County Sheriff's Office to Bachmann's funeral, he said.

O'Connor said something like this happening in the quiet college town of College Station is a reminder to everyone that things like this can happen anywhere.

"In this world today, you have to be very vigilant as to where you go, when you go, and how you go," he said.

The sheriff said he knows a lot of people will read about shooting like this and tell themselves it can't happen in their neighborhoods, but those in law enforcement always try to keep in mind that things like this can happen anywhere.

"For me, it's close enough and personal enough that it makes me reflect on this," he said.

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