JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Police said Friday they’re investigating whether a former student at a Mississippi university shot himself, after a multi-hour campus lockdown earlier in the day and a building-to-building search for what had been described as another gunman.
Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that a gun was recovered in the victim’s truck near the scene of the shooting at the Mississippi University for Women.
Shelton said the injured man remains hospitalized Friday night but is expected to recover. He declined to describe the nature of the man’s injuries. Columbus police say they don’t release the names of crime victims.
“The public needs to know that we are investigating whether or not the shooting was self-inflicted,” Shelton said in a news release.
Shelton said police are testing the gun to determine if it was used in the shooting. He said police are also trying to determine whether the university or anyone else has surveillance video showing the shooting. Shelton said police are unlikely to release more information until Monday.
University spokeswoman Anika Perkins told the AP that the victim is a former student. It’s unclear why he was on the edge of campus near the university’s main auditorium. Employees were working Friday, but classes at the 2,800-student university aren’t scheduled to resume until Jan. 15. Known by graduates as The W, Mississippi University for Women has enrolled men since 1982.
The incident sparked panic at both the university and in Columbus, a city of 24,000 that’s about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Jackson near the Alabama border. Police, sheriff’s deputies and others went from building to building at the university looking for a suspect they had described as wearing jeans and an orange hoodie, while university employees huddled in their offices. After someone falsely reported sighting the suspect blocks away in downtown Columbus, The Commercial Dispatch reported that businesses locked their doors while more than a dozen police cars converged.
Ultimately, police pulled up their crime scene tape and declared an all-clear more than two hours after the shooting was reported.