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Police questioning student in Delaware college shooting

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: School's president: "These are just kids who did very, very stupid things"
  • NEW: Campus police chief: Probe indicates a student is behind the shooting
  • Police interview one "person of interest," search for another
  • Federal authorities ATF, U.S. marshals lending assistance
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DOVER, Delaware (CNN) -- Police said they were interviewing a student who is a "person of interest" in Friday's shooting of two other students at Delaware State University.

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A guard checks a van entering Delaware State University Friday after two students were shot and wounded.

Police were also searching for a second student -- also a person of interest -- as the university was locked down in the wake of the early morning shootings.

"This was not an act of terrorism," said James Overton, the school's police chief.

"This was not a crazed gunman who found his way onto the campus. What our investigation is telling us is, it was a Delaware State University student that caused this and will have to face the consequences of his actions."

University President Allen Sessoms echoed those remarks, saying the shooting appeared to be "an internal problem for the university."

"These are just kids who did very, very stupid things ... and we've got to deal with that," he said.

The shootings happened after a group of eight to 10 students left the campus' Village Cafe between midnight and 1 a.m., Overton said.

Some of the group gathered at a pedestrian mall in the center of campus, near Memorial Hall.

Someone started shooting, Overton said, and "approximately four to six shots were fired."

A 17-year-old male student was shot once and is hospitalized in stable condition and a 17-year-old female student was shot twice and is in serious condition, he said.

University spokesman Carlos Holmes said the female student's "injuries were more serious and they could potentially be life-threatening. We're praying, we're hoping for the best for her."

Both victims are from the Washington area, Overton said.

Students, faculty and staff were directed to remain in their buildings, the school said.

The lockdown, Holmes said, continued Friday afternoon for about 1,200 people living in dormitories and an apartment complex for upper-level students.

The campus would be opened on a limited basis for student activities on Saturday, Overton said.

Chris Reugre, a junior who lives off-campus, said he hoped police catch the other potential suspect soon.

"I heard about it this morning around 7. My dad woke me up, and I was just shocked," he said. "It took me back to Virginia Tech. ... I never thought it would happen at my school. ... It's a pretty safe campus, in my opinion."

On April 16, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty members before killing himself on the Virginia Polytechnic Institute campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

An investigation report released in August criticized school officials after the shooting deaths. An independent investigative panel concluded that more timely and specific information by Virginia Tech officials might have saved lives.

"We have learned tremendously from the tragedy at Virginia Tech," Sessoms said, adding the school began notifying students almost immediately.

The university posted "timely warning notifications" in residential halls, on Web sites and on campus phone messages, Holmes said.

"Any time you pick up a phone you automatically hear a message that lets you know the situation," Holmes said. "We've used everything we have at our disposal."

Senior Franz Delima said a friend told him about the shootings at 5:30 a.m., and he immediately checked the university's Web site.

"I was shocked by the news," Delima said. He said a friend of his is a residential assistant in one of the dorms, and she was "scared."

"I'm pretty sure someone from outside did it," Delima said. "The school did a good job of telling us what happened."

University personnel and students can check the status of the situation on the campus Web site at www.desu.edu and by calling (302) 857-7669.

Holmes said a procedure had been set up for students who wanted to leave for the weekend. Students were allowed to leave their dorm rooms to eat on campus, but had to follow strict safety procedures, he added.

He said food and other necessities would be provided to people holed up in the dorms.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware State Police, were aiding the search for the gunman, Holmes said.

U.S. marshals and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also are lending forensics expertise, he said. Video Watch how police are searching campus and surrounding area »

The Delaware school was struck by tragedy last month when three teens who were either enrolled at Delaware State or in the process of doing so were shot to death execution-style in a Newark, New Jersey, school yard. Another teen was wounded.

Asked about the impact of the Newark killings, Afiriyie-Hwedie said, "People are really worried, and basically some people are trying to figure out whether things are connected or not, but on the most part they don't think it is."

The university was founded in 1890 as the State College for Colored Students, a land grant college for agriculture and mechanical arts. The school now considers itself diversified.

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The 400-acre main campus is on the north side of Dover, Delaware's capital.

Delaware State University is about two hours away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, and three hours away from New York City. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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