A midnight shooting left two dead at a Louisiana college. The shooter has yet to be found.
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Two killed in campus shooting at Grambling State University, gunman at large
Police are searching for a gunman after a student and a campus visitor were fatally shot at Grambling State University in Louisiana on Oct. 25. (Reuters)
First came the calls to Grambling State University’s police chief, Gene Caviness, around midnight Tuesday, with distraught students reporting shots fired on the historically black university campus in northern Louisiana.
Then police found Earl Andrews, a 23-year-old Grambling senior, and his friend Monquiarious Caldwell, also 23. They were on the ground in a residential courtyard, both dead from gunshot wounds.
Police say a shooter, who is unknown and remains at large, shot them and fled.
The shooting has shaken the campus, a small community of 5,188 mostly black students, where the loss of a student is “truly a loss of a member of a family,” said Richard J. Gallot Jr., the university’s president. The shooting occurred during homecoming week, when the school, in the city of Grambling, sees a spike in visitors.
“It’s a horrible thing to happen on any day of the week, any week,” said Will Sutton, the university’s director of communications. “It’s particularly unfortunate that it’s homecoming week, an annual, joyful series of days, where we have people returning home to campus. . . . Nobody wants to return to something like this.”
The fatal shooting apparently began as “an altercation that started inside one of the dorm rooms and spilled out into the courtyard,” said Maj. Stephen Williams, a spokesman for the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office. No weapons were found at the scene. The sheriff’s office has taken over the investigation from campus police, and detectives on Wednesday afternoon were still interviewing witnesses, attempting to identify a suspect.
Sheriff Mike Stone said in a news release late Wednesday morning that the shooting appeared to be an isolated occurrence.
“This tragic incident appears to have occurred between persons that knew each other, to some extent at least. There are no indicators that this incident bears any resemblance to any of the random acts of violence or domestic terrorism that have been experienced around our country in recent weeks,” Stone said.
Students had received emergency text messages from the university after the shooting, urging them to stay in their rooms overnight, school officials said. About a third of the university’s students live on campus.
Caviness was alerted to the shooting after receiving several calls on his cellphone from students. University officials said he often gives his cellphone number to students at the beginning of the semester and encourages them to call him with any concerns, rather than go through the police department.
It’s just one example of the closeness of the Grambling State community, said Gallot, the university president. He told The Post that he wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of support for the victims’ families so soon after the shooting, as dozens of students posted condolences on social media as early as 2 a.m. Wednesday.
He said that Andrews, the Grambling State student, especially loved being part of the university’s family and that even the cafeteria workers were fond of him, adopting the senior as “one of their own.”
“I honestly can’t remember the last time there was a loss of life in this manner . . . the last time we had something of this magnitude,” Gallot said. “We’re not in the middle of a major metropolitan area. We’re a small community. Something like this is not something that happens every day.”
In a statement to the campus community, he asked that the “GramFam” student body do what it has always done: look out for one another. The university will move forward with academic and event schedules as planned this week, including all homecoming events. Students and staff should expect an increased police and security presence on campus, Gallot said.
Andrews lived with his older brother, Ladarius Heard, in Ruston, La., a short distance from campus.
Heard, a contractor for an industrial building company, had been staying in Shreveport for an extended job assignment last week — but drove back to Ruston on a whim Friday night.
“I don’t know what it was,” Heard told The Post. “Something that told me to drive back.”
He said he was sleeping when a friend called him around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday to alert him to the shooting on campus.
Heard said he can’t fathom why anyone would have wanted to harm his younger brother.
“He was always smiling, dancing,” Heard said. “He didn’t bother nobody.”
Andrews was studying criminal justice at Grambling, Heard said, and had planned on moving to Texas after graduation.
His mother, Juanita Augman, said he wanted to be a parole officer.
“I just can’t explain it,” Augman said of her son’s death. “It’s just been the longest, longest day. He was a wonderful child.”
He played football at Patterson High School, about four hours south of Grambling, and wanted to play in college but couldn’t because of an injury, she said.
He enjoyed basketball, as well, and often played at the campus gym with members of Grambling’s basketball team. Andrews was also a runner and had earned more than 15 trophies during his time on the Patterson High School track team.
He eventually moved, transferring to Farmerville High School, not far from Grambling. He graduated from that school in 2013.
“He was a very active person. Everybody loved him,” his mother told The Post. “And he was very respectable.”
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She added: “I love all my kids, but he was just a special one — everybody loved him.”
School officials said class will be in session Wednesday.
Grambling State University offices are open with normal business hours and students are expected to attend classes as scheduled.
— Grambling State Univ (@Grambling1901) October 25, 2017
Grambling State was founded in 1901 by a group of black farmers and has become well known for its marching band and its football dominance; about 200 players went on to the NFL during the tenure of a legendary coach.
Susan Svrluga contributed to this report, which has been updated.