3 Shot at Phoenix College; Suspect Arrested
Chris KahnJacques Billeaud
Thursday, July 24, 2008
PHOENIX -- A long-standing dispute between two men turned violent when authorities say a former student shot three people in a computer lab at a community college, injuring one of them critically. The suspected gunman was arrested nearby.
The shooting Thursday afternoon at South Mountain Community College was part of an ongoing feud between the suspect and one of the victims, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.
"This was not a random shooter going around the campus shooting," Hill said, noting that two of the injured people were struck by stray bullets.
The suspect was identified as Rodney Smith, who police said was a former student at the college. Smith, 22, was still being interviewed by police late Thursday, and it was not known if he had a lawyer yet.
He was arrested at a home a few miles away within a half-hour of the first 911 call about the shooting, police spokesman Reuben Gonzales said.
Also arrested at the home were Smith's parents and three other people on charges of interfering with an investigation and failure to obey a police officer after they crossed police tape and demanded to go back inside, Gonzales said.
Yessenia Lara, an 18-year-old student who witnessed the shooting, said the gunman was one of two men who had been fighting in the computer building.
"I saw someone get punched and then I heard three shots after that. Everybody basically ducked, and the shooter got away," Lara said, adding that the victims were yelling in pain.
A 19-year-old man was in critical condition at Maricopa Medical Center, while a 20-year-old woman was upgraded from critical to stable condition Thursday night and a 17-year-old boy remained in stable condition, hospital officials said.
The woman was shot in the hip, while the man and boy suffered leg wounds, officials said. Their identities were not released.
Details on when the suspect attended the school were not immediately available.
College spokesman Robert Pryce said the school was in lockdown for about an hour. About 20 to 30 people were in the computer lab during the shooting and as many as 300 people were on campus, he said. The lab is open to the public.
An electronic sign outside the school said all classes were canceled Thursday and students could be seen leaving the campus calmly about 90 minutes after the shooting. Pryce said the campus would be closed Friday, which is typical during the summer.
Situated at the base of Phoenix's South Mountain, the college has more than 8,000 students. Most students are seeking associate degrees and certificates of completion.