Two Dead in Shooting at UCA

By Paul Eilers on 9:06 AM

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Third victim treated, released from hospital

Two University of Central Arkansas students were killed Sunday night in a campus shooting. Lt. Rhonda Swindle, UCA Police Department public information officer, said the victims' identities were being protected until police are confident that their families have been notified. Another man, who Swindle confirmed was not a UCA student, was also injured, but has been released from Conway Regional Medical Center according to a Conway Regional spokesperson.

Campus police responded to a report of shots fired outside Arkansas Hall at 9:19 p.m. and found one man dead at the scene. MEMS responded to the scene at 9:28 p.m. and transported the other two men to Conway Regional, where one later died, Swindle said.

Police are seeking four suspects in the shooting, and one person of interest was being questioned early this morning. A joint UCAPD/Conway Police Department investigation is ongoing.

Swindle did confirm that the two deceased men were UCA students. The third victim, who sustained minor injuries, was not a UCA student, she said. A joint CPD-UCAPD investigation is underway.

"We've had a lot of leads coming in and we are acting on them very quickly," Swindle said at a press conference early this morning. Reports came in of shots fired at two apartment complexes near the university, but these did not seem to be related to the campus shooting, she said.

Classes today are cancelled, interim UCA President Tom Courtway announced.

Counselors and chaplains were called in after the shooting to help grieving students and family members of the victims.

"It's just an awful tragedy," Courtway said. "It's the worst thing that can happen on a college campus."

Courtway said that in coming days the university will "have to start looking at everything: access points to campus, different types of notification systems, security cameras ... everything will be examined."

Though the campus was not "locked down" after the shooting, Swindle said, most vehicle entrances were blocked and those remaining were manned for several hours by police officers who restricted traffic into and out of the campus to emergency workers and members of the press. Dormitories and the Student Center were likewise sealed for several hours following the shooting.

Police could confirm few details of the shooting. The act did take place outside of Arkansas Hall at and around a driveway between the dorm and the Snow Fine Arts building, Swindle said. She also said she could not comment on where or how the person of interest was located.

Witnesses were sought by police and interviewed in the hours after the shooting, she said, but no possible motive has been released. Swindle could not comment as to what type of firearm was used in the shooting, nor could she confirm one witness report that the gunman was inside Arkansas Hall before the shooting.

Witness accounts of the event varied, with some students saying that the gunman got into a light-colored vehicle after the shooting and was driven away by other possible accomplices. Some said the vehicle was a Chevrolet SUV, while others said they saw a large sedan. Others said they never saw a vehicle at all.

Swindle said that some outdoor campus security cameras were installed earlier in the year and that the footage they may have recorded will be reviewed. She could not comment as to whether shell casings were recovered, but did say the bodies of the two men killed will be transported to the State Crime Lab for examination.

In the hours after the shooting, several groups of students gathered near the crime scene seemed on edge, voicing fears that those responsible for the shooting could still be on campus. One group noticed a passer-by that none recognized as a student and alerted police, who briefly questioned the man, and searched him for weapons before releasing him.

Swindle said authorities were "certain the campus is safe" at a 3 a.m. press conference. By this time, security measures had been relaxed and students were free to leave their dorms.

An initiative announced last year in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre brought about new tactics and training for campus officers faced with an active shooter situation. Officers with UCAPD are now trained in basic S.W.A.T. tactics and the use of AR-15 military-style rifles donated to the university last year.

"The only thing we can't do is predict when and where it's going to happen," she said.

Another press conference was scheduled for 9 a.m. this morning at the university's Brewer-Hegeman conference center.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at

2 comments for this post

Wow, that was a really impressive article, my dear Paul!!! What a horrible tragedy. Isn't UCA where Ethan went before law school at Fayetteville?

Posted on October 28, 2008 at 12:45 AM  


Nah. I went to Hendrix -- same town, though.

Posted on October 28, 2008 at 10:24 AM  

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