The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) remained locked down and classes were cancelled Oct. 27 after two students were killed and a third person was wounded in a campus shooting.
University spokesman Warrick Sabin said faculty and students received phone calls and eMail messages through an automated system at 9:38 p.m. on Oct. 26, warning them of the shooting and encouraging them to stay inside behind locked doors. The shooting was first reported at 9:22 p.m. that evening.
Sabin said it was the first incident to prompt use of the university’s new emergency eMail and phone call system, purchased last year after the Virginia Tech massacre.
As students and faculty remained indoors, UCA officials continued to provide updates on the situation on the home page of the university’s web site.
UCA police spokeswoman Lt. Rhonda Swindle said the shooting occurred near a male dormitory and behind the campus police station. An officer heard the shots and police were at the scene in less than a minute, she said.
Swindle said a "person of interest" was in custody but declined to say whether the person had a role in the shootings.
Swindle had no immediate explanation for why the shootings occurred. She said one victim was dead at the scene and the other two ran into the Arkansas Hall dormitory. The second victim died at a hospital. The third victim was not a student, and Swindle said his injuries were minor.
The campus was dark early Monday morning, though police cruisers with flashing lights patrolled the streets.
"According to investigators and what they’ve been able to obtain…we feel certain the campus is safe," Swindle said. "We do have some good leads."
Interim UCA President Tom Courtway said every precaution was being taken to ensure the safety of the students who remained in their dormitory rooms.
"The No. 1 responsibility is to make sure this campus is safe, and that’s what we’re doing," Courtway said.
Swindle said the campus went into lockdown as soon as the shooting occurred, meaning no one was allowed in or out.
Student Aprille Hanson, 20, of Mountain Home, Ark., said the shooting was "definitely an eye-opener" in the quiet city of Conway, about 30 miles north of Little Rock.
"This campus is very safe. I’ve never felt afraid on this campus," she said. "I think now…everyone’s going to be a little more tense."
Police used crime scene tape to keep people out of a large area around where the shootings occurred, including an intersection. The shooting was near several buildings, including the police station, the men’s dorm, the main campus dining hall, and a fine arts building.
UCA has 12,500 students.