What Happened At Grambling State University? A Shooting Rattled The Louisiana Campus
Early Wednesday morning, a deadly shooting happened on Louisiana's Grambling State University campus. The Associated Press reported that two people were killed and that the shooter was on the run. Stephen Williams, a spokesman for the Lincoln Parish Sheriff's Office, told the news agency they had responded to a double homicide and were assisting campus police.
Local media already identified the victims early Wednesday. Both were 23-year-olds, and one was a senior at the university. News station KTVE/KARD reported that the shooting happened outside a dorm around midnight, and that authorities responded after a female student called the campus police. The two were already dead when officers Thomas Harmon and Sgt. Rodney Williams arrived to the scene.
Police are still looking for suspects and students have been told to stay in the rooms. The school's residential life Twitter posted, "Students, for your own safety and security please remain in your campus res Hall until you are given further information. Thank you," with the hashtag #GramFam. No updates have been made to the university's Twitter or Facebook page as of early Wednesday morning.
University spokesman Will Sutton released an official statement:
Our prayers go out to the victims and their families. Violence has no place on our campus. We will fully cooperate with the police investigation.
Grambling is in the north of the state, just off Interstate 20 in Grambling, Louisiana, a town of about 5,000 people. The school is a historically black college and opened in 1901 as an industrial and agricultural school. The campus now has nearly 5,000 students on its 384-acre campus and fields of study that range from education to nursing.
This is the latest in decades of college campus shootings that have resulted in the deaths of many Americans, and many more injured. Just this month there was a shooting on the Virginia State Campus, that resulted only in injuries. Another campus shooting, at North Lake College in Texas, resulted in the death of one student at the hand of a former student who then killed himself.
The largest university campus shooting remains at Virginia Tech, where 32 were killed in 2007 at a dorm and in a classroom. The gunman was a senior who mailed details of his motives to NBC News. He had two pistols, including one that he bought online. There was controversy afterwards that the university had not warned students early enough, which resulted in a fine from the Department of Education.
After the Virginia Tech shooting, there were some changes to Virginia's gun control laws, particularly around how mental health issues could be reported by the state to flag buyers of guns during their background checks. However, nothing has changed federally.
That's been the same after every major shooting since then, including at Sandyhook Elementary School, the Pulse LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, and the country music festival in Las Vegas this fall. Nothing has been able to pass Congress, although there has been talk (but no action) of banning or limiting sales of the bump stock, something the Las Vegas shooter used to make his weapons shoot nearly the speed of automatics.
Whether any proposed gun control measures, such as universal background checks, or limits on magazines, would have made a difference remains to be seen as the details of Wednesday's shootings roll in. The state of Louisiana has relatively lax gun control legislation — specifically, the state's constitution specifically says that "the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged." Only concealed weapons are controlled. Permits are not needed to purchase, carry openly, or own. The state also recognizes concealed carry from other states.
The death of two 23-year-olds on a college campus, depending on the forthcoming circumstances, could change that.