Posted: Sep 28, 2010 10:51 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
A gunman opened fire inside a library at the University of Texas at Austin, then shot and killed himself, police and university officials said Tuesday.
Police Chief Art Acevedo told NBC News that that the dead man suffered what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police were seeking a possible second suspect.
"What we're doing right is being methodical to eliminate the second suspect," Acevedo said.
No shots were fired by law enforcement, Acevedo said.
NBC News reported that officers had recovered an AK-47 from the scene.
University spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said that no one else was hurt in Tuesday morning's shooting at the Perry-Castaneda Library.
Weldon said a man with an automatic weapon opened fire inside the library, then fatally shot himself.
Witnesses told the Austin American-Statesman that eight to 10 shots were fired in short bursts. The paper said there were "numerous reports" that the gunman was wearing a black ski mask.
Law professor Randall Wilhite told the newspaper he was driving when he saw students scattering and a man in a suit carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle.
"He ran right in front of my car, fired two or three shots south sort of generally in my direction but not at me," Wilhite added. "They seemed to hit to my left sort of in the median. It didn't look like he was targeting individuals. He was just sort of shooting into the ground."
Investigators were trying to determine what led to the gunfire. According to the Austinist website, one witness told KTBC that the suspect mentioned "layoffs" at the library.
Police told the newspaper that differing descriptions of the gunman meant it was possible that a second suspect remained at-large.
Don Hale, the university's vice president of public affairs, told The Daily Texan student newspaper that officials believe the potential second suspect was unarmed.
However, police and university officials urged students to stay indoors. The university canceled classes for the day.
"A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Police are searching for possible second shooter. Lock doors, do not leave your building," the university said in an e-mail alert to students and staff.
Investigators are trying to determine what led to the gunfire at the UT campus at Austin, which is one of the largest in the country with nearly 50,000 students.
Law enforcement from campus police, Austin police and the state Department of Public Safety rushed onto campus at the first reports of the shooting. Tank-like armored vehicles were positioned near the library. A DPS helicopter circled the campus overhead.
"It's chaos right now," student Micah Geisenberg told CNN.
The Perry-Castaneda Library is one of several on the campus and is one of the busiest undergraduate libraries.
"The students did their part, they cleared the streets, they cleared the grounds in a very quick manner," Acevedo said.
Tuesday's shooting is not the first at the school.
On Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman went to the 28th floor observation deck at the UT clock tower in the middle of campus and began shooting at people below. He killed 16 people and wounded nearly three dozen before police killed him about 90 minutes after the siege began.
Whitman had killed his wife and his mother the night before.