1 dead, 1 in custody after shooting at Purdue University

7:14 PM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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  • One person was reported dead after a shooting in an engineering building on the main campus of Purdue University in W. Lafayette, IN (Lafayette Journal & Courier)

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- Purdue University announced late Tuesday afternoon that classes are canceled through Wednesday in the wake of an on-campus shooting that left one person dead and another in custody at noon Tuesday.

A suspect identified as Cody Cousins, 23, was booked into Tippecanoe County Jail at 5:15 p.m. and was being held without bond in connection with the homicide, jail officials said.

Purdue Provost Timothy Sands confirmed one fatality resulted from the shooting. The victim was identified as a male. During a 2:30 p.m. news conference, officials released no identity, saying that would be up to the Tippecanoe County Coroner.

Purdue Police Chief John Cox said the male suspect did not resist when arrested and was not armed. He said it did not appear to be a mass shooting and that the suspect intended harm to the deceased. The suspect was taken into custody moments after the act.

The shooting occurred in a basement classroom of the Electrical Engineering building, Cox said. He said a sweep was immediately conducted of the building. No additional suspects are being sought.

The connection between the suspect and the victim is unknown, and Cox said there has been "little to no cooperation with the individual we took into custody."

Sands said a text alert system the university utilizes to warn students and staff worked as planned. The shooting occurred at approximately noon, and the alert went out with minutes.

Purdue University sent the following message: "Shooting reported on campus; Bldg. Electrical Engineering; avoid area; shelter in place; Check www.purdue.edu for updates."

Cox said 25 to 30 police officers also were on the scene within minutes.

"We immediately did a couple sweeps of the building," Cox said. "Kudos to the staff and the students. They 'sheltered in place' and did all the right things." 

The Purdue Exponent reported that the shooting occurred in a classroom of EE Professor D.G. Meyer. Meyer, when contacted by the Journal & Courier, said he was not at liberty to talk about the matter.

The campus is open and operating as normal. Classes are still being held in campus buildings, with the exception of the EE building which remains the site of an active investigation.

Provost Tim Sands said Purdue officials believe the campus is now safe.

"We feel we had control of the situation and we are encouraging students to continue about their usual business," Sands said. "The campus is operating normally but certainly ... it'll take some time to digest this event and understand it."

Earlier, people on the Purdue campus were directed to remain "sheltered in place," or stay where they were from noon until approximately 1:30 p.m.

At that point, an official in the Purdue Memorial Union told students they were free to move about campus with the exception of the Electrical Engineering building, which at that time was still being searched.

Earlier, outside the EE building one male was brought outside with his hands behind his back. Police did not speak with reporters at the scene.

Two students told the Journal & Courier they heard what sounded like two shots and saw someone who possibly had blood on his or her hands.

Nick Wieland, a Purdue sophomore, exited the EE building around 2:15 p.m. with a group of students who said they were in a basement classroom adjacent to the classroom when the shooting took place.

"I heard a couple (shots) and then I heard a man scream," Wieland said. "Then the last few kind of trailed off as I got under my desk. ... (I was) just very scared. That's what I felt the entire time."

Police had set up a command post on Northwestern Avenue across from the engineering mall, according to police dispatches.

Four students were shuffling down North Street on their way home after they received texts from the university to avoid the area around the Electrical Engineering building.

Zachory Stewart, 19, of Indianapolis is in his first year at Purdue.

"I wasn't exactly expecting it to happen up here," he said.

"It sounds really stupid, I mean why would you shoot anyone, you know. They are your fellow colleagues," said Ashish Mahajan, 19, who is studying computer technology.

Mahajan was on his way to class in the Electrical Engineering building.

Rocky Killion, superintendent of West Lafayette Community School Corp., said he received no official notice from Purdue but that students were kept inside during lunch as a precaution. Normally, the West Side high school campus is open during lunch.

Northwestern Avenue remained closed to traffic from Grant Street to Stadium Avenue as of 11 a.m. with more than two dozen police vehicles visible.

Purdue students will host a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m. Tuesday on the steps of Hovde Hall and encourage the Purdue community to attend.

An appearance at Purdue by Julian Bond, scheduled to take for 7 p.m. Tuesday at a Martin Luther King Day convocation on campus, has been cancelled. A Purdue official said cancellation was due to inclement weather on the East Coast.

(Lafayette Journal & Courier)

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