3 wounded in shooting at South Mountain CC - East Valley Tribune: News

3 wounded in shooting at South Mountain CC

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Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:41 pm | Updated: 10:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Three people were injured, two critically, when a gunman opened fire in a computer lab at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix on Thursday afternoon.

SLIDESHOW: Three shot, injured at SMCC

VIDEO: Reaction to SMCC shooting

A gunman opened fire Thursday afternoon inside a busy computer lab at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, injuring a man he was targeting and two bystanders.

SLIDESHOW: Three shot, injured at SMCC

VIDEO: Reaction to SMCC shooting

Shooting at South Mountain Community College. Map by Gabriel Utasi/TRIBUNE, Sky Harbor Airport, South Mountain Park, 7th Ave., 7th St., 16th St., 24th St., 32nd St., 40th St., 48th St., Baseline Rd., 202, 60, 17, 10, 143

Ninteen-year-old Isaac Deshay Smith remained in critical condition late Thursday, according to police. Otisha Charee Williams, 20, was shot in the hip and her condition was upgraded Thursday night from critical to stable. The third victim, 17-year-old Christopher Lee Taylor, was in stable condition, according to police.

Police arrested Rodney Eugene Smith, 22, the man believed to be the lone shooter, a short time later at a nearby house. Police also arrested five others, including Smith’s father and mother, who are accused of interfering with a police investigation.

Witnesses in the computer lab at the time of the shooting said they saw two men arguing just before shots rang out.

An estimated 20 to 30 people were in the room, and witnesses said everyone immediately hit the floor or hid under desks.

“They were fighting or arguing,” said Kimberly Byers, 18, who was working on a computer when she heard the shots.

She said she quickly hid under the desk and did not have time to see the shooter.

“I think there was only one that got hit that was involved in the fight.”

About a block away from the campus, outside the police perimeter, a shaken Jay Taylor, 22, said his 17-year-old brother, Christopher, was among the wounded.

He said he got a phone call from his sister, who was also in the room when the shooting took place, a little after 4 p.m., telling him their brother had been shot.

“He’s a skateboarder,” Jay Taylor said. “He skates all day. He’s not into violence or anything. I don’t know how it happened.”

An hour after the shooting, he was waiting for an update from police.

Authorities did not release the names of the victims, but they said a 20-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man are the ones critically injured.

A 17-year-old victim, presumably Christopher Taylor, is the one expected to survive.

The fight between the two men started long before they got to campus, said Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill, though he did not know what the argument was about.

One of the victims was the target of the shooter, he said, but bullets flew past him and hit bystanders.

Detective Reuben Gonzales said the shooter ran from the campus before police arrived.

As a precaution, a highly trained police squad locked down the college and swept through it room by room checking for further victims or shooters.

Investigators were able to track the shooter to a house.

Byers said some of the people in the lab tended to the wounded until help arrived.

“The girl (who was hit) was just crying and saying she wanted her mom,” Byers said.

Another woman, April Duarte, 19, who was also in the room at the time, said she was shocked at what she saw.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.

An electronic sign outside the school said all classes were canceled Thursday. Students could be seen leaving the campus calmly.

College President Ken Atwater and a school counselor, Cori Washington, went to the Phoenix hospital where the victims were taken to show their support and talk to family members.

In a prepared statement, Atwater said, “The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority and all appropriate measures are being taken to ensure the safety of our campus,” but he did not elaborate.

Situated at the base of Phoenix’s South Mountain, the college has more than 8,000 students each year.

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The Associated Press and ABC15 News contributed to this report.

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