Sunday, May 20, 2018

Police: Wyo. murder-suicide happened during class

CASPER, Wyo. — A man wielding a sharp-edged weapon killed one person in a Casper neighborhood Friday before killing a male teacher and then himself in front of students in a community college classroom, causing a campuswide lockdown as authorities tried to piece together what happened.

Police found the suspect and the teacher dead in a science building on the Casper College campus, which was locked down for about two hours, school and police officials said. The other victim, a woman, was found in a street about 2 miles away.

Casper police Chief Chris Walsh said the murder-suicide took place in a classroom with students present, but he didn't know how many students or what the class topic was.

He said investigators were still trying to determine a motive.

Walsh said an "edged weapon" was used in at least one of the killings, but he didn't offer specifics, and it was unclear whether the same or a similar weapon was used in all of the deaths.

The attacker wasn't believed to be a Casper College student, and it appeared he knew the victims, Walsh said. No names were released.

"We're locating next of kin and working on notification absolutely as fast as we can," Walsh said.

He said authorities didn't believe there was any further threat to the community.

"I want to emphasize that this is a horrible tragedy," Walsh said. "And I want the city to … just feel safe right now. There is no one at large."

The attack at the two-year community college in Casper occurred just before 9 a.m. in a classroom on the science building's third floor. All students and staff were evacuated from the building.

The college sent out a campuswide alert via text message and email within two minutes of receiving word of the attack at 9:06 a.m., school spokesman Rich Fujita said. The lockdown ended about 11 a.m., Fujita said.

Only between 1,500 and 2,000 of the college's 5,000 students were there, he added.

One of them, freshman Pearson Morgan, was in a math class on the first floor of the science building when his instructor relayed the news in a state of shock.

"My teacher was just so sick. He said, 'You can just leave,' " Morgan said.

Morgan walked outside his classroom to find a female student crying. He then turned to see two or three officers with assault rifles bounding up the stairs. Then all of the classrooms emptied, and a crush of students carried him outside, but nobody panicked, Morgan said.

"There was a large group of students behind me," he said. "There was a lot of confusion."

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