COLUMBIA, SC — A shooting incident on the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus was a murder-suicide.
University of South Carolina police and others responded to the shooting at the Public Health Research Center on the Columbia campus about 1 p.m. University spokesman Wes Hickman subsequently said the building had been secured and an all clear issued.
However, confusion persisted.
According to the USC’s Darla Moore School of Business, USC police were saying not to release students from that nearby building, even though the threat had passed.
An investigation is being conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division, which takes the lead in all shootings on S.C. college campuses.
Thom Berry of SLED said the agency was investigating a murder-suicide in the public health building.
“There was no active shooter other than the two deceased,” Berry said.
No names were released, and Berry wouldn’t say if the two killed included students, faculty or others related to USC.
He had no information on where in the building the shooting happened, other than it happened in a room.
Berry also said it appeared the shootings were over very quickly.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts’ office arrived at the scene.
The schoolwide alert went out at 1:16 p.m. in a text message to all 25,000-plus USC students and faculty saying, “SHORS (CQ) FIRED AT NEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. Seek safe shelter.”
Afterward, USC said all public health classes and any classes in the Public Health Research Center (New School of Public Health) had been canceled for the remainder of the day.
Carolina Alert tweeted that shots were fired at the University of South Carolina’s new school of public health about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The Public Health Research Building is located at 921 Assembly St.
There was an unconfirmed report from an employee at the school, who declined to give her name, that the shooting happened on the fourth floor of the building.
As the alert was issued, people were asked to seek a safe shelter. All USC buildings also were put on lockdown, and police set up a perimeter and blocking off Park, College and Pendleton Streets. Traffic was closed Park at College and College at Assembly.
Immediately after the alert, Cameron Razzaghi, 22, a USC student in a bank parking lot across from the school, said he was worried some friends might still be in the school.
Razzaghi said he was on the Virginia Tech campus at the time of the 2007 shootings there, while growing up in Blacksburg.
“I’m worried,” Razzaghi said. “I’ve been through this before.”
The manager of Subway on Assembly Street said police ordered the shop and gas station to lock its doors about 1:30 p.m. Six employees were inside.
“The road is blocked,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “Nobody in and nobody out.”
“We see in the window a bunch of police officers on the road, fire trucks and everything,” she said.
“I haven’t heard anything,” said Ty Williams, manager of a nearby Sandy’s fast-food restaurant. “I’ve seen some cop cars going toward south main and some going toward Assembly.”
Gov. Nikki Haley cut short a news conference for security concerns Thursday. Some state government workers, who work close to campus at the Capitol Complex, also were notified by security officers of the shooting.
Officers in SWAT gear, armed with AR-15s, moved students across Assembly Street from the school of public health.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook was on the scene as well as the Columbia Fire Department.
There was a report that an ambulance was at the school, but it left.