By RANDALL CHASE
Associated Press Writer
DOVER, Del. (AP) - Two students were shot and wounded, one seriously, at Delaware State University early Friday, and the campus was locked down as police searched for a gunman, officials said.
The students were apparently returning from a cafe when they were shot, according to a federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
The male student was wounded in the ankle and refused to answer questions by police about the shootings, the official said, raising the likelihood that he knew his attacker.
Classes were canceled for the day and students were being kept inside.
"They've been directed to stay in their dorms," university spokesman Carlos Holmes said. "We don't know where the shooter's at."
Gates at the university's main entrance prevented people from driving onto campus.
The two students were shot before 1 a.m. on the Campus Mall, between the Memorial Hall gymnasium and Richard S. Grossley Hall, an administrative building.
Holmes said the female student appeared to have suffered serious wounds. "They could be potentially life-threatening," he said.
The male student's wounds were not as serious and he was hospitalized in stable condition, Holmes said.
The woman was taken to Christiana Hospital in Newark, N.J., with a traumatic wound to the abdomen, said John Wilson, the deputy chief of Kent County Emergency Services. The man was taken to Kent General Hospital in Dover. Officials at both hospitals referred questions to the university.
Authorities, with the campus police in charge of the investigation, hoped to get more information once the victims were able to talk. They don't yet know about the possible motive.
"We haven't had a chance to talk to them yet, and that's probably a big reason why the suspect is still at large," Holmes told KYW-TV of Philadelphia.
He said he was not aware of any big parties Thursday night, although there was a rally organized to honor the so-called Jena Six, six black teenagers charged in a high school fight in Louisiana.
"It was a very peaceful, very nice rally, very positive," Holmes said. There was no reason to believe the rally was connected to the shootings, but Holmes contrasted the atmosphere of the event with the attack, saying, "It's kind of shocking that this happened afterwards."
Alex Bishoff, 20, a freshman from Washington, D.C., said he heard five gunshots and looked out his dormitory window to see people scattering. He said he immediately thought of the Virginia Tech shootings last April in which a gunman killed 32 people before killing himself.
"Everybody's very upset," Bishoff said.
Timmara Gooden, 20, of Philadelphia, said in a phone interview late Friday morning from her dorm room that she and her suite mates were keeping each other calm and making sure that their parents understand that they're OK.
"We've been locked in here since 1 o'clock this morning," she said. "Right now, we're pretty hungry and waiting so we can go to the cafe, or something."
Students weren't even going into their dorm hallways. "We don't want to walk out there, because we don't know what's going on," Gooden said.
University officials informed students about the shooting with phone calls, a notice posted on the campus Web site and notifications in each dormitory. Holmes said Delaware State had improved the speed of its notifications after the Virginia Tech shootings.
The Dover campus was surrounded Friday by groups of recreational vehicles belonging to NASCAR fans in town for weekend races at the Dover Downs Speedway.
A commuter student who arrived Friday morning was barred from campus. Eduardo Rivera, 25, of Milford, said he hadn't known about the shootings and was surprised by the media gathered outside the main gate.
"I thought it was about racing, or NASCAR, or something like that," he said. "I'm shocked. I don't expect to hear something like this when I'm trying to go to class - it's weird."
Rivera, a sophomore studying physical education and sports management, said he had felt the campus was safe.
At the start of the semester, the campus community held a memorial service for three students and an incoming student shot execution-style Aug. 4 as they hung out at an elementary school in their hometown of Newark, N.J. Natasha Aeriel, 19; her brother, Terrance Aeriel, 18, and Dashon Harvey, 20, were students. Iofemi Hightower, 20, had planned to attend Delaware State this fall. Natasha Aeriel, the only survivor, helped police identify six suspects who have been arrested.
One student said friends of hers were near the shooting Friday when it started. "They were pretty shook up," said Samantha Williams, from Orange, N.J., who is taking a leave from school.
She said students on campus were excited about an upcoming appearance by rappers during homecoming festivities in mid-October.
Delaware State was established in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students. It had about 3,690 students last year. The 400-acre campus is in the northern section of Dover, across the street from the racetrack.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)