JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A professor was killed in his office at Delta State University in Mississippi, an official said Monday, and the campus remained on lockdown with the shooter still believed to be on the loose.
Bolivar County Deputy Coroner Murray Roark said history professor Ethan Schmidt was killed inside an office in Jobe Hall. It was not immediately clear if anyone else was wounded.
Schmidt directed the first-year seminar program and specialized in Native American and colonial history, said Don Allan Mitchell, an English professor at the school, who called him “a gentleman in every sense of the word.”
“Dr. Ethan Schmidt was a terrific family man, a good friend, a true son of Peabody, Kansas, and his beloved Emporia State University,” he said.
Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said the suspect is no longer believed to be on the campus. He would not say how investigators reached that conclusion or say where the suspect is believed to be.
The lockdown began about 10:45 a.m. local time, with the university advising students, faculty and staff to take shelter and stay away from windows.
Freshman Noah Joyner, 18, said he was shaken by the lockdown. Joyner hunkered down in a bathroom of his dorm building and heard others desperate to get in when reports of the active shooter spread.
“There were like people banging on the doors to have somebody let them in,” said Joyner, a swimmer at the college. “It was pretty terrifying to hear people banging on the door.”
The 3,500-student university is in Cleveland, in Mississippi’s Delta region near the Arkansas-Mississippi state line.
“Fortunately for us, our public safety officers and university officials have trained many of us for active shooter situations,” Mitchell wrote in a Facebook message to The Associated Press. “Many students are locked-down in classrooms, and professors and staff members are telling them the protocol. Plus, we are all texting and Facebooking each other to make sure we are safe.”
He said police helicopters were in the air, and officers were sweeping buildings. Later in the day, he said campus buildings were being evacuated.
However, another English professor, Bill Hays, said the university did a poor job of communicating with faculty, staff and students about the emergency situation.
“It’s really frustrating because there is no campus-wide updating from a central command center. Everything we’re getting is just rumors,” Hays said in a phone call from his office in Keithley Hall, across the street from the shooting site.
Hays said a SWAT team swept his office to make sure the shooter wasn’t hiding there.