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Purdue shooting: 1 dead, suspect in custody, police say [Update]

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One person was killed and another was in custody after a shooting at Purdue University on Tuesday, officials said.

University police chief John Cox said the gunman walked into a room at the school's electrical engineering department "with the intention of harming someone," then walked out after the shooting and gave himself up to a West Lafayette, Ind., police officer.

Cox and Purdue Provost Timothy Sands confirmed the fatality at a news conference hours after the incident led to an alert that shut down the campus. The alert was lifted about two hours after the shooting.

Cox told reporters that the suspect appeared to have targeted the victim.

The university did not identify the suspect or the victim.

“We need to let the investigators do their job so we can make sure everything is done right,” Cox said.

“Today’s shooting at Purdue University is a tragedy, and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victim and to everyone in the Purdue community,” Gov. Mike Pence said in a statement. “I commend the professionalism of the West Lafayette Police Department in apprehending the suspect and bringing the situation to a swift conclusion. The Indiana State Police are on the scene and will continue to assist local law enforcement with the ongoing investigation.”

The incident began about noon local time with reports of shots being fired at the Electrical Engineering Building on the northeast side of campus in West Lafayette, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

The university posted an alert on its website urging students, faculty and staff to take shelter in place.

By 1:15 p.m., the school had canceled the alert, assuring the community that the area was secure. The engineering building remained on lockdown, but the rest of the 40,000-student campus reopened, the school said.

Kirk Choquette, a 20-year-old sophomore, said he was walking from the bathroom to his class on the first floor of the engineering building when he heard gunshots.

“Initially I didn’t think they were gunshots,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I thought someone was just banging on the wall on the wall ... then I heard cops yell, ‘Get down.’”

Shortly after he got to his class, he said, police evacuated students in the building.

“I was in disbelief that a shooting would happen, especially near me,” he said.

While standing outside, Choquette said, he and a friend saw a person leave the building with what appeared to be blood on his hands.

Felicia Leibering, 18, said she was sitting in her economics class in the engineering building when she and her classmates heard yelling from the hallway.

“Our teacher was like ‘what’s going on up there?’ and people sort of giggled,” she told The Times.

She said the professor asked students to look into the hallway and that minutes later police officers entered the large lecture hall and told everyone to evacuate the building.

“We didn’t hear any gunshots, just kind of muffled yelling outside the room,” she said. “There were cops everywhere, standing there as we evacuated the building and along the road outside.”

Leibering said it wasn't until she was walking to a different building, where her next class was located, that she received a text message from the university notifying students of the shooting.

“I was in shock,” she said. “I started picking up the pace to get to the building I was going to.”

[For the Record, 1:49 p.m. PST Jan. 21: An earlier version of this quoted a statement from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's office commending the Purdue University Police Department in the wake of the shooting on the campus. The governor's office later amended that statement to commend the West Lafayette Police Department.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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