By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) – An 18-year-old student killed one peer and wounded three others when he opened fire during a confrontation on the Northern Arizona University campus early on Friday before being arrested, in another shooting to hit a U.S. school, authorities said.
The suspected gunman was identified as Steven Jones, a freshman at the university in Flagstaff, campus police chief Gregory Fowler said. He said Jones pulled the handgun in a “confrontation” with several students.
Colin Brough was killed in the shooting, according to the university. The three injured students, identified as Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring, suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center, Fowler said. Their conditions were not disclosed.
The shooting occurred just hours before President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit Roseburg, Oregon to meet privately with families of nine people killed in a mass shooting at a community college there last week.
A university spokeswoman said the Arizona incident occurred in a parking lot next to a residence hall for Greek organizations – fraternities and sororities – around 1:20 a.m.
“We don’t know the facts yet about what brought them together, or what caused the confrontation,” Fowler said.
Delta Chi International Fraternity executive director Justin Sherman said the four victims were members of the fraternity but the alleged gunman was not.
Jones, who did not try to flee, was arrested by university police and is cooperating with authorities, Fowler said. He said guns are not allowed to be carried on campus.
The university said Jones was charged with first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault, and that he would be arraigned by video on Friday afternoon.
Classes were to continue as scheduled on Friday for the school’s 20,000 students, university president Rita Cheng told a news conference, calling the incident isolated.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain, both Republicans, extended thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
Obama reacted to the killings in Oregon by vowing to step up efforts to curb U.S. gun violence. Gun rights advocates said the Oregon shootings underscored the importance of the right of Americans to bear arms and defend themselves.
Just hours after the Arizona shooting, police said one person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at an apartment complex near the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston, and a suspect had been taken into custody.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix, Arizona and Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham and James Dalgleish)
Suspected gunman Steven Jones, a freshman at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff is shown in this booking photo released on October 9, 2015. REUTERS/Northern Arizona University/Handout