VC campus shooting started after fight about religion

Sept. 21, 2011 at 4:21 a.m.

A coalition of law enforcement arrested a Victoria man suspected of shooting a handgun in a Victoria College gym shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

No one was injured, and the campus was on lockdownn for slightly more than an hour.

VC Police Chief Matt Williams identified the suspect as Marcus Washington, 40, of Victoria.

He was arrested within 10 minutes of the shots being fired in the VC Sports Center, where students and others were playing basketball, said VC President Tom Butler.

"I walked right by him and didn't even know he had a gun,"said Garret Griffith, a 20-year-old VC student who was in the gym at the time of the shooting.

Before the shots being fired, Griffith said he saw the shooter having an argument about religion with one of the basketball players.

Griffith said the shooter yelled, "You're wrong," before running out of the building.

The man returned a few minutes later, appeared to hesitate, then pulled out a gun and pointed it at the man with whom he had been arguing.

Before the gun was fired, another basketball player dove and knocked the original target to the ground, according to Griffith.

"I think he saved his life," Griffith said.

Griffith said the shooter appeared flustered and fired about six shots around the sports center, some into the roof and some at a ping-pong table.

When the shots went off, Griffith said the girls in the building started to cry.

"It was like a zoo in there. I ran toward the door the shooter had come in," Griffith said. "I wanted to see what was happening and make sure everyone was all right."

Police, some armed with rifles, found Washington hiding in a backyard on the northside of campus near Loma Vista Avenue.

He appeared to have discarded his gun, which police also found, Victoria Police Department Chief Jeff Craig said.

Craig declined to specify the type of gun used in the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation.

Williams confirmed Washington was not a VC student, though the altercation was between both VC students and non-students.

Within minutes of the shooting VC activated its alert system, sending out to students, employees and board members emails and text messages that read, "Shots have been fired on the Victoria College main campus. All buildings should be locked and all individuals on campus should stay inside their current location. Law enforcement officers are on site."

The college released another message after Washington was apprehended, encouraging those on campus to remain inside while police ruled out the possibility of another shooter.

Classes will resume as scheduled, but the VC Sports Center remains closed for investigation.

See tomorrow's Advocate for the full story.



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