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Four Injured In Halloween USC Shooting

Staff Reporters |
November 1, 2012 | 9:46 a.m. PDT

Executive Producers

Four were wounded in the shooting. (Wilson Pumpernickel/Flickr)
Four were wounded in the shooting. (Wilson Pumpernickel/Flickr)
A suspect still at large fired gunshots outside the University of Southern California’s Tutor Campus Center just after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, wounding four victims.

One victim is said to have suffered critical wounds to the buttocks and stomach while three others suffered minor wounds. The L.A. Times reported that the gunman targeted one person; the three others were by-standers. They have been transferred to a hospital. USC advised its students to stay away from the area and seek shelter in a secure location.

The campus was put on lockdown after midnight, and some students have reported to Neon Tommy that many people remain sheltered in buildings on campus.

The suspect fled toward Exposition Boulevard, just south of the Campus Center. He was wearing a white baseball shirt with red sleeves. At least two people are in custody. It’s unclear if the suspected gunman is in custody.

“The scene is secure at the Tutor Campus Center on the University Park campus. There is an ongoing police investigation in progress,” the university said on its website.

Though Neon Tommy has not confirmed the information, one victim is believed to be Geno Hall, a former high school football teammate of USC linebacker Hayes Pullard and Oregon tailback De’Anthony Thomas. Hall posted a picture on Twitter from the USC campus earlier Wednesday night.

A pair of Neon Tommy reporters in the Campus Center courtyard at the time of the shooting reported that they didn’t hear gunshots, but “a mob of people” fled from the main Campus Center building. The Campus Center contains a study area on the entrance floor. In the basement level are the student radio station, a campus bar named Traditions, a small concert venue adjacent to the bar and a grand ballroom.

The concert venue, Tommy’s Place, listed on its website a “Ghosts N’ Stuff: Haunted DJs” party from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. On Twitter, a user by the name of @ayTwan was promoting a Halloween night “Freak or Greek” party.

USC’s Department of Public Safety emergency number is 213-740-4321.

USC notified students and other members of its community through its Trojans Alert text and email notification system at midnight. The official @USC Twitter account didn’t mention the incident until 12:30 a.m. USC public safety officials said to keep an eye on website.

——-

Here’s an account a Neon Tommy contributor submitted at 1:15 a.m.:

Matt Hamilton, 25:

Five of us were standing outside of TCC on campus. We were kind of near the entrance of the ballroom which is in the Tutor Campus Center. It happened sometime 11:30ish-11:45ish. There were probably at least 150 people. Maybe 200 people. It was kind of dark. People were trying to getting into the party. There was no word as to why people weren’t getting into the party. Maybe the party was at capacity. People were approaching the area. There were huge crowds of people walking in costume towards the party. Some people were visibly drunk. 

All of a sudden, we heard a gunshot. It turned out to be 4 gunshots in rapid succession. All of a sudden, we just ran away as fast as we could. There were screams. People shouting to get away as fast as possible. We ran but got separated. I ran into the building after AHS and crouched. Everyone was either running away or getting down and crouching. Cement walls, planters. Police came very quickly. There were already USC campus police at the event because they were patrolling the event. I think that’s partly why there was such a quick response. There were already many officers on the scene already. While crouching, I saw more police come to the scene. Within minutes, LAPD. I saw fire trucks. Helicopter overhead. Ambulance. 

I walked back to the scene. I wanted to get closer to where my car was. Police had cordoned the area off. Things seemed to be more stabilized. I saw caution tapes set up. I walked towards the scene, and I think I saw two black men. I think police said that one was 17 and the other was 20. Police said that one was shot in the shoulder and the other, I don’t know where. 

I met up with friends. Two people were arrested. They were sitting on a ledge with their backs facing outwards in the Tutor Campus Center courtyard. They were arrested sitting side-by-side.

——-—

Neon Tommy reporter Melissah Yang spoke to fellow Neon Tommy reporter Ashley Riegle early Thursday.

Melissah: Can you just tell me your version of events?

Ashley: I went to Traddies (Traditions — USC’s campus bar) with friends after class. I was sitting outside chatting. I was observing a lot of people heading over to a campus party. I found out that it was a Black Student Assembly party. Multiple people said it was BSA. (Neon Tommy cannot confirm this information yet.)

Some people are saying that it was a different organization hosting it.

Well then, who was throwing the party? At least one campus cop said it was a BSA party. As soon as the shots were fired, then people were being frank. “I don’t go here. I just came to the party.” The majority of people that I interacted with admitted that they didn’t go to USC. It was a party that was geared towards students who weren’t from here. I just thought it was some campus party.

When the shots were fired, what did you do?

I was just sitting there and hanging out and getting fresh air. I thought it was the police trying to calm the crowd with some kind of fake warning shot. Then I realized that everyone was running, top speed, towards Jefferson. Towards that side of campus. Including girls who were in four-inch heels. That’s when I realized that this was real.

There was a body on the ground outside of the Tutor Center. There were cops, fire trucks, helicopters everywhere. 

Did you talk to any authorities?

No, I was just shell-shocked. 

How are you feeling now?

It was weird. Everything from like around Tommy Trojan, around that fountain, all the way down to Annenberg, it’s all roped off. The authorities swooped in. I heard they’re holding a press conference right now. 

I still don’t believe it happened. I definitely don’t believe it happened. It did not in the least occur to me that it was real. Why would it be real?

——-—

Neon Tommy reporter Melissah Yang spoke with 23-year-old USC student Astrid Solorzano early Thursday morning.

Melissah: Tell me what happened.

Astrid: We left Traddies around 11:35 p.m. I know for a fact that it happened around then because I checked my phone right before and after. I didn’t check my phone again around 11:51 so it happened around then. 

We saw a whole bunch of people walking toward the party. We just followed the crowd. Apparently a party was being held by the Black Student Assembly, BSA. (Editor’s note: Neon Tommy is unable to confirm this.) In front of the door, there were like 150-200 people outside. It seemed like a tailgate party. Everyone was just dressed in a costume. Everyone was having a good time.

Ashley (see interview with Ashley here) and I actually spoke with a cop right before and asked him what was going on. We asked if the party was over, and the cop said that everyone was just waiting to get into the event. The cop said that they were trying to disperse the crowd and make them go to another area. Five minutes later, we were standing in front of the Career Center. Then I turned, and I saw a whole group of people. There was a guy who had a red sweater, and he kind of lifted his arm. He lifted both of his arms. I looked somewhere else and then I heard gunshots. Ashley and I were in shock and couldn’t move. Everyone started running trying to get away. There were a couple of people who were staying in the area. A couple of guys were yelling. A couple of cops took out their guns and hid behind their segways and tried to duck. 

Ashley and I were frozen. We weren’t hiding at all. Ashley thought it was a joke. I thought it was a joke at first too. Then I pushed her to go down and hide behind a bench.

I ran towards a cop to see what he was saying. He was talking to this girl, and she was really scared. She didn’t know what was going on. She said, “You know, I don’t want to be a snitch, but I saw this guy in a red sweater.” I told the cop that I saw a red sweater too. She said that he looked like he was 25 years old. He was like a medium skin color. He was like 5’9” or 5’11”. I think she saw his face. She said that he shot a bullet and then just dodged. Right when she was saying these things, I heard on the cop radio, “Black man shot. Seventeen-year-old black man shot in the shoulder. On the run.” So I heard on the police radio that two people had been shot.

I ran towards the scene again. We went towards AHS (a building on campus) and then all of a sudden, we saw this guy on the floor. I think that was the guy who was shot in the shoulder. He was really close to Tommy Trojan. Almost underneath Tommy Trojan but to the side. He was lying limp. The left side of his head was leaning limp on the floor. He was hyperventilating. He had a hard time breathing, but his face was calm. A lot of people were running towards him. A lot of people who knew him were running toward him. 

When did you leave?

I left around 1:30. 

What was the situation like when you left?

By 1:30, everything was shut down. They weren’t letting anyone come in. All the gates were closed. I was told by an NBC photographer that other reporters were trying to get in, but nobody was allowed to get in. People were allowed to get out. Police officers were still there. 

I heard that three people were detained inside the event hall where the event had taken place. Around 1:30 or 1:35, three young men were escorted out by police officers and taken somewhere. I don’t know where. From the Tutor Center, they walked towards Annenberg. Then I don’t know where they went.

There were reports that people were on lockdown in buildings.

Yeah, the lockdown of the building was the dungeon place of the actual event. 

How are you feeling now? 

I guess I’m still in shock. Seeing that really makes me sad. The fact that this happened on campus and had nothing to do with students that go to USC. It’s sad that situations like this occur on campus. It taints our image. I think there’s going to be a negative image on the black population and other minorities on campus. I think for future events, they’re going to be looked down upon because they can’t control their parties. It might be their fault. It might not be. But it’s sad that this negative image happens for minorities in higher education. 

It’s scary. I don’t think it’ll happen to me. The two Chinese students who were shot last year, that happened off-campus. For it to happen on-campus, it’s alarming. It’s sad that a couple of people from the community can mess it up for students who are trying to get an education.



 

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