An apparent murder-suicide left two people dead at the
Thom Berry, spokesman for South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, said the incident lasted only a few minutes and was confined to a single room.
Berry said a handgun was used in the attack, and investigators believe the shooter and victim were the only two people in the room at the time.
It remains unclear whether the two dead were university students, teachers or staff. Their identities were not released.
"Today, the USC family experienced a great tragedy. Sadly, a shooting in one of our buildings has left two dead in what appears to be a murder-suicide," University President Harris Pastides said in a statement. "The thoughts and prayers of our entire community are with the families of the deceased tonight."
In an alert posted to the school's website at 1:16 p.m. Eastern time, officials said gunshots had been fired at the college's new public health school, located on the Columbia, S.C., campus.
The brief alert asked students to "seek safe shelter," but did not offer any information on injuries.
In a second message posted at 2:15 p.m., the school said there was "no longer an existing threat," but asked students to stay away from the area where the gunfire was reported.
Calls to the campus police department seeking additional information were not immediately returned.
Times staff writer David Zucchino contributed to this report.