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Student opens fire at UT, kills self

The Battalion

Published: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07

The Austin Statesman courtesy photo

Sept 29, 2010 15

After firing numerous shots on the UT campus Tuesday, Colton Tooley, 19, was chased by police to the Perry-Castaneda Library where he fatally shot himself. Tooley was wearing a dark suit and a ski mask. The campus was closed and on lockdown after the shootings. UT Police reported Tooley dead at 9:12 a.m. on the sixth floor of the library. Police searched the campus for a possible second shooter, but after further investigation concluded it was only Tooley. No one else was hurt.

The sound of gunfire shattered the usual routine of morning classes at the University of Texas at Austin Tuesday when a shooter opened fire in a busy area on the south end of campus near the largest dormitory.

At about 8:15 a.m., the shooter opened fire at an unknown target with an AK-47 by the Littlefield Fountain. The total number of shots fired remains unclear; however, no students, other than the shooter, or emergency personnel sustained injuries in the incident.

Later in the day, the Travis County Medical Examiner's office identified the shooter as Colton Tooley, 19, a sophomore math major.

Texas sophomore Megan Hodges was in class nearby when the shooting started. Students were on lockdown and took cover during the danger.

"After waiting for like an hour, a SWAT team came in and escorted us out," Hodges said. "They were waiting by the door with cocked guns in hand and made us all raise our hands in the air while they searched the building. When I finally got outside, there were more police officers and tanks, and helicopters were everywhere. It was really scary, and it really shook me up."

After the initial shots, police chased Tooley on foot to the Perry-Castaneda Library. At 9:12 a.m. UT Police reported that Tooley had been found dead of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound on the sixth floor of the library.

The authorities were exploring the possibility of a second gunman after receiving conflicting reports of two shooters wearing suits and ski masks. However, after further investifation, indications are the shooter acted alone. Campus remained closed for hours while police searched every room and conducted the investigation.

The University closed and canceled classes and activities for the remainder of the day. By early afternoon students were allowed to return to their dormitories. Students and police remained on alert.

"The police did a fantastic job of handling the situation. I would not hesitate to describe UTPD's actions as one of their finest hours," said Texas freshman Elise Frame.

A&M student reaction to the shooting was wide-ranging.

"I think it's awful, I think it's heartbreaking and it's really scary to think about that it happened so close. My thoughts and prayers go out to them," said Tiana Cooper, a senior English major.

Some students in Aggieland do not feel safe after the shooting.

"There's a lot of fear now that has foundation. It could happen anywhere. You never know," said Nora Burnstad, a senior French major.

Other students, such as Will Sims, a senior mechanical engineering major, were less affected by the events in Austin.

"I'm concerned about it, but it doesn't mean I need to be paranoid where it effects my daily life," Sims said. "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing."  

Several students discussed viability and usefulness of A&M alert systems such as the Code Maroon. Students received text and e-mail alerts from the similar notification system at UT Tuesday, effectively advising them of the danger on campus.

"I think how to react should be a more integral part," Cooper said. "My heart jumps every time I see Code Maroon as an alert. Last time when we had a Code Maroon about the weather, I know for a fact that several professors just kept on going. That's not OK."

Students can feel safe in main buildings, common areas and the library at A&M, a University official said.

"We are in close contact with University Police and they are prepared to give us assistance," said Charles Gilreath, executive associate dean of Evans Library. "We worked closely with the University Police over the course of the last many months, had our staff go through training in regard to situations as this so hopefully if it ever happened here our staff would know how to give people guidance to give them as much safety as we can."

Police are searching Tooley's residence in Austin to figure out a motive for Tuesday's incident.

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