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University of Texas shooting: Gunman dead; searching for second suspect

UPDATE 3:49 p.m.: Authorities have concluded that the gunman acted alone, and the lockdown has ended at the Austin campus.

A gunman fired "several shots" inside a library at the University of Texas and then shot himself, according to a breaking news report in the Austin American Statesman.

Police "are looking for a possible second suspect" as of late this morning, the report says.

UT was the scene of one of the most notorious university shootings in history: Charles Joseph Whitman, a student and ex-Marine, killed 14 and wounded 32 in a mass shooting in August 1966.

Tuesday's incident serves as a live test of the emergency response systems all universities have developed in the decades since, a trend that has accelerated in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

The speed and effectiveness of administrative response to violence resurfaced as a major issue in higher education after the Virginia Tech shootings. Student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in April 2007 and then himself, making it the deadliest college shooting attack in the nation's history.

In Tuesday's incident, the shooter is dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. The UT campus was reported to be locked down. Officials said it appeared no one else was injured by the gunman, who was said by witnesses to be carrying an automatic weapon.

"The shooter is dead on the sixth floor of Perry-Castaneda Library, said Don Hale, a university spokesman, as quoted in the Austin newspaper. "No identification. Apparently took his own life."

Police told the paper they were concerned of a possible second suspect based on witness reports that raised that prospect.

Witnesses reportedly described eight to 10 shots fired, "in short bursts," the account said, by a gunman wearing a black ski mask.

From the article:

"[Broadcaster] KVUE talked to UT student Andrew McWaters who said he saw the shooter near Dobie Mall and heard four gunshots followed by two more. He said the gunman was wearing a black ski mask, smiling and waving the gun."

University officials sent an alert at 8:23 a.m., using text message, loudspeakers, sirens and an online posting.

Update, 12:12 p.m.: University of Texas President Bill Powers has canceled classes for today, according to the Houston Chronicle.

By Daniel de Vise  | September 28, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Crime  | Tags:  UT shooting, University of Texas shooting, texas university, university of texas, university of texas Austin shooting, ut Austin, ut Austin shooting, ut gunman  
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Automatic weapon? Want to bet he's military or recently ex-military? Likely to be many more of these incidents this school year...

Posted by: gce1356 | September 28, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Universities have very short memories about on campus related homicides and suicides.In the era of the 'new economy' budgets are being slashed with little thought as to the mental health of the students. Psyciatric and mental health units of campus health centers and counseling centres are chronicly underfunded and have be the target of recent budget cuts nation wide. some health centers have been told that they must be self supporting and no longer receive operating funds from their universities. It's time for this trend to be reversed and to fully fund on campus psychiatric services for students.

Posted by: soccerhead | September 28, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

gce1356 wrote:
"Automatic weapon? Want to bet he's military or recently ex-military? Likely to be many more of these incidents this school year..."

Spoken like a true gun-hating, military-hating, left wing ideologue. Is it possible that the shooter could have simply been a social outcast who was depressed? Isn't that typically the kind of person who does something like this?

Why do feel it necessary to politicize this tragic event?

Posted by: jake2010 | September 28, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

jake, i don't know how you get all of that out of gce1356's comment. I don't see how saying there may be a connection between an automatic weapon and a military background, and predicting more incidents of the same kind, makes someone a gun hater. sounded like an observation to me, and like you're the one bringing politics into it. maybe I'm missing something with the post you're referring to, but I don't see it.

Posted by: red2million | September 28, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Is he related to Charlie Whitman? The library instead of the tower. Can't shoot either. Charlie could, and did, shoot.

Posted by: mortified469 | September 28, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"Is he related to Charlie Whitman? The library instead of the tower."

@mortified -- In 1966, the tower at UT WAS the library. Libraries are dangerous places....

Posted by: ocohen2 | September 28, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

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