A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom on Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.
Cody Cousins, who is believed to have targeted Andrew Boldt inside the Electrical Engineering Building, surrendered to a police officer within minutes of the attack, Purdue Police Chief John Cox said.
Investigators were trying to determine a motive for the shooting, which happened around noon on the campus in West Lafayette, about 100 km northwest of Indianapolis. No one else was hurt.
“This appears to be an isolated and intentional act,” Mr. Cox said.
Boldt, a 21-year-old senior and teaching assistant from West Bend, Wisconsin, died at the scene. Cousins, 23, who according to police has addresses listed both in Warsaw, Indiana, and Centerville, Ohio, was being held on a preliminary charge of murder on Tuesday night at the Tippecanoe County Jail.
Students described a chaotic scene on the campus. Sophomore Nick Wieland told the Journal & Courier that he was in a basement classroom adjacent to the one where the shooting occurred.
“I heard a couple (shots) and then I heard a man scream,” Wieland said. “Then the last few kind of trailed off as I got under my desk… (I was) just very scared. That’s what I felt the entire time.”
Julissa Martinez, a freshman in nursing, told The Associated Press that she was in a psychology class on another part of the campus when she received the text alert from university officials telling students to seek shelter.
She said her professor briefly kept teaching, then stopped lecturing so that students could contact people to let them know they were safe.
“He tried to get everything under control because people were freaking out,” Ms. Martinez said, adding that students were nervous because there was a lot of speculation about the severity of the situation.
The shooting was reported at 12.03 p.m. and Purdue officials issued the campuswide text alert shortly afterward. Cousins was taken into custody outside the engineering building within minutes of the shooting.
Around 1.15 p.m., the university texted students a message telling them there was no ongoing threat on campus and that normal operations would resume in all buildings except the engineering facility.
But the university later announced that classes were being suspended through Wednesday.
Purdue Provost Tim Sands said the university’s president, Mitch Daniels, a former Indiana Governor, was on a weeklong school trip to Colombia but will be cutting his travel short. He was expected to return to campus on Wednesday.
Mr. Sands, who in June will become president of Virginia Tech, where a 2007 campus shooting left 33 dead, said Purdue will offer assistance to those who need it as the circumstances of Tuesday’s shooting unfold.
Boldt graduated in 2010 from Marquette University High School, a Jesuit school in Milwaukee.
Family members of Boldt could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night. Relatives of Cousins also could not be reached.