BALTIMORE (AP) — A shooting interrupted a homecoming week celebration at Baltimore’s Morgan State University on Tuesday, wounding five people and prompting an hourslong lockdown of the historically Black college.
Students hunkered down for about four hours, as police went room to room looking for suspects. No arrests were made.
Police Commissioner Richard Worley said the five victims, four men and one woman, are between the ages of 18 and 22. Their injuries were not life-threatening, he told reporters at a news conference early Wednesday.
Morgan State Police Chief Lance Hatcher said four of the victims are students at the university. The police did not release information about a suspect or suspects, and Worley said that investigators didn’t know how many shooters were involved.
The shooting happened shortly after the coronation of Mister & Miss Morgan State at the Murphy Fine Arts Center, as students were heading to a campus ball.
Konnor Crowder, a sophomore from Baltimore, said he and his friends had been waiting for the coronation ball to start when they saw people running.
“First I was wondering what they were running for, then I was wondering where we should go,” he said.
Worley said police heard gunshots and several dorm windows shattered, so officials initially thought there was an active shooter on campus and acted accordingly. He said they ended the shelter-in-place order around 12:30 a.m., after SWAT officers cleared a building where a suspect was feared to be hiding.
Shortly after midnight, dozens of students wearing gowns and suits started trickling out of the arts center, where they had been waiting. Many were trying to process the chaos and fear that overwhelmed an evening of festivities.
Orange evidence markers were visible on the ground in front of a building next to the dorm where the shooting occurred. Yellow crime tape encircled the area as officers used flashlights to search for evidence.
Parents gathered outside a police blockade at the south entrance to campus. James Willoughby, a Morgan State alum whose daughter is a freshman, said he wasn’t leaving until he laid eyes on her. “I’m gonna be here until I can physically see her,” he said.
Glenmore Blackwood came to the campus after hearing from his son, a senior who told him the shooting occurred just as the coronation was concluding.
Blackwood said his son was in the arts center’s auditorium. He sang in the ceremony and was planning to host a prayer service afterward.
“That’s my son. He’s going to make sure I know he’s OK,” Blackwood said. “It’s just sad. They were doing a good thing — an event to promote positivity — and all this negativity happens.”
Morgan State University President David Wilson said he had canceled Wednesday’s classes, and would hold an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to decide whether to hold other events planned for the runup to the school’s homecoming game, which is scheduled to be played on Saturday.
“It is unfortunate that this tragedy happened here tonight,” he said. “By no means will it define who we are as a university.”
The university, which has about 9,000 students, was founded in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute with an initial mission of training men for ministry, according to its website. It moved to its current site in northeast Baltimore in 1917, and was purchased by the state of Maryland in 1939 as it aimed to provide more opportunities for Black citizens.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott noted recent declines in the city’s homicide rate and said the shooting Tuesday indicates a need for national gun reform.
“We have to deal with this issue nationally,” he said. “We have to get serious about guns.”