National

Obama consoles Oregon families, while shootings occur on 2 other campuses

AP

On a day when President Barack Obama met with grieving relatives of the eight students and teacher killed at an Oregon community college last week, one student was killed in a shootout at Northern Arizona University and another was killed in a shooting outside a Texas Southern University student-housing complex.

And earlier this week, Eastern Kentucky University canceled classes and shifted a home football game to another campus after officials discovered graffiti on Monday that threatened to “Kill All By 10/8/15.”

The Friday shootings came eight days after the rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which left 10 people dead.

“We’re going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place” so regularly, Obama told reporters following the approximately hour-long, private meeting with grieving family members of those killed and injured last week at the Oregon college. “I’ve got some very strong feelings about this.”

A 26-year-old gunman, Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, opened fire on his fellow English class students, killing eight of them and the teacher before taking his own life. Nine others were injured in the deadliest shooting in Oregon’s history.

“Today, it’s about the families, their grief and the love we feel for them,” Obama said, adding these occasions always remind him that anyone could be the victim.

Friday, three universities across the country contended with shootouts or threats of one.

At Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, an overnight brawl between two groups of students escalated into violence around 1:20 a.m. Friday when a freshman fraternity pledge opened fire on four fraternity members, killing one and wounding three, authorities said. The shooting happened outside of a dormitory.

Steven Jones, 18, told police he shot the group of students only after they hit him in the face and chased him, according to court documents. He also said he tried to administer first aid to one of the victims.

Prosecutors said the suspect’s account amounted to a “self-serving” statement and alleged Jones was the aggressor.

“There is no indication of self-defense here,” Deputy County Attorney Ammon Barker said. “The defendant had retreated from the fight, he obtained a gun and then he went back into the fray.”

Jones was booked Friday for one count of first-degree homicide and three counts of aggravated assault.

The victims were all members of the Delta Chi fraternity while Jones was a pledge at Sigma Chi. Student Colin Brough was killed, and Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring were wounded.

At Texas Southern University in Houston, a student was killed and another person was wounded in a shooting in the parking lot of a student-housing complex around 11:30 a.m. Friday. Police detained at least two people for questioning, authorities said.

Two men were detained, but police said no charges have been filed.

University President John Rudley said the student who was killed was a freshman, but that his name and age haven’t been released. The second victim, whose name also hasn’t been released, was shot twice and is hospitalized in stable condition, Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said.

“Like President Obama says, this is getting to be too regular,” Rudley said during a Friday afternoon news conference.

Meanwhile, campus threats surfaced in recent days at Eastern Kentucky University in Louisville. On Monday, campus police issued a public safety alert after menacing graffiti was found in a student center bathroom. The graffiti said: “Kill All By 10/8/15.”

School leaders called off classes for the rest of the week, effective midmorning Wednesday, as police tried to track down the source of threats that unsettled the campus in Richmond, Kentucky. The school later said its football game against Tennessee Tech, scheduled for Thursday night on the EKU campus, will instead be played at Georgetown College in central Kentucky.

The shootings have sparked new talk about gun violence, though history suggests the prospects for enacting legislation are highly unlikely. Republican lawmakers are talking about considering legislation to improve mental health care. Democrats are pitching the formation of a special committee to investigate gun violence, similar to panels the GOP-led House established to investigate Planned Parenthood and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

A White House push for stricter gun laws immediately after the Newtown shooting failed in the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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