Five Duquesne University basketball players -- four of them in their first month at the Pittsburgh institution -- were shot early Sunday morning, after leaving a dance at the student union.
As of Sunday night, three students remained hospitalized -- one in critical condition. Two others had been released.
The shooting took place at 2:15 a.m. in an open area near two dormitories. Many students "were outside, hanging out, enjoying the night," and saw or heard the shooting, said Emily Leone, news editor of The Duquesne Duke, the student paper. While students didn't know exactly what transpired, word spread quickly among students, who were stunned and scared.
"This is a very safe campus and nothing like this has ever happened before," Leone said Sunday afternoon. "There's a very ominous feeling on the campus and a lot of speculation."
The Duke published an account of the immediate aftermath: blood on the walls, students in panic, resident advisers trying to get everyone inside.
Police have a suspect in the case and he is not a Duquesne student but is believed to have attended the dance, which was sponsored by the Black Student Union. A Dusquesne spokeswoman said that the dance was open to university students, to members of local colleges' black student unions, and to the guests of members of any of those groups. The spokeswoman said that firearms are barred from the campus.
According to police, the suspect was part of a group of students who attended the dance, and the suspect began to shoot the basketball players when the two groups encountered each other after leaving the dance. There were some reports that a second person flashed a gun during the shootings.
Duquesne's basketball program -- once highly regarded and more recently struggling -- is currently in rebuilding mode. A new coach largely recruited a new team this year, with many transfers, in an effort to rejuvenate the program. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published profiles of the wounded players.
The Dusquesne shootings came only days after a gunman in Montreal shot 20 students at Dawson College, killing one, before killing himself.
The two incidents would seem to have little in common except for the terror they created on campuses. But Sheldon E. Steinbach, vice president and general counsel of the American Council on Education, said that shootings of multiple people on a campus do fit patterns. "For those of who lived through the University of Texas tower shooter to Montreal last week, and everything in between, these tend to be of one of two categories: either as in the Montreal situation, an idiosyncratic event by a maladjusted person, or someone who has taken offense to an action at a given party on a campus and uses firearms to seek revenge for some perceived slight."
"This is not some new trend," he said. But Steinbach added that "these kinds of incidents aren't going to go away in 21st century America."
Tragedies like this, Steinbach said, show why it is important for colleges to try to keep guns off of their campuses.
S. Daniel Carter, senior vice president of Security on Campus, said that a campus shooting demonstrates that it is important to have professional security at campus social activities. "Do you have someone who knows how to make sure a situation doesn't escalate, and can deal with it if it does?" he asked.
Shootings are not typical kinds of campus crime, Carter said. Most campus crime involves alcohol or drugs, students who know one another, theft or sexual assault.
Duquesne officials are offering counseling for their students, as well as assistance to the families of the shooting victims.