ORANGEBURG - As the sun fell at South Carolina State University, the campus atmosphere was of an eerie calm.
A student was shot here on Friday, and was pronounced dead at the hospital later in the day. Police were still looking for the alleged shooter late Friday, and were interested in speaking with at least three additional "persons of interest."
School authorities declined to release the identity of the student who died, but the Orangeburg Coroner's Office identified him as Brandon Alexander Robinson, 20. He was a redshirt junior defensive lineman on the football team, according to the school's athletics website. He attended Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School prior to that.
"He's a very nice young man," said Thomas Elzey, university president, while holding back tears. "It hurts. It hurts us all."
University Police Chief Mernard Clarkson said what prompted the incident between Robinson and the shooter was unknown. The case has since been turned over to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, which had been participating in the investigation early on at the request of university police.
SLED will lead the investigation because state law requires it take over any case that involves the death of a student on campus, said Agent Thom Berry, SLED spokesman. Berry would also not name the suspect or how many persons of interest the agency is searching for.
"We are following up on leads," Berry said.
Just before university officials held a press conference late Friday afternoon, a lockdown that ordered students to stay indoors was lifted. Most followed orders before it was lifted; very few straggled out and about.
The shooting took place around 1:30 p.m., Friday. Campus police were called to the scene of The Andrew Hugine Suites Living and Learning Community on campus. As cops and first responders descended on the scene, chemistry student Chris Payton said he spotted the ambulance where Robinson was being given medical attention.
Payton, 22, said he was walking out of his classroom when he noticed people zooming by. Someone told him a student had been shot. Payton said he knew who the alleged shooter was, but declined to identify him. He said he simply hoped what he heard was not true.
"At the end of the day it's sad what happened," Payton said. "It's really sad what happened."
Luis Figueroa, 22, said he learned of the shooting from a friend.
"I found out about it before I got the text or email I'm supposed to get," said Figueroa, adding he received the campus alert about 20 minutes after the shooting. He said the shooting did not make him concerned over his safety on campus.
"I wasn't in fear of nothing," Figueroa said.
By the time Figueroa and Payton took to the streets, police had already moved their search for the alleged shooter off campus. They believe the suspect and those persons of interest involved left just after the shooting.
Many of the students who walked around campus while it was on lockdown did not want to be interviewed. Most seemed to have been numbed by the incident, going about their business in routine ways: playing with their phones, listening to music. A few had tears in their eyes.
South Carolina State was also the site of a fatal shooting in 2011, when police said three men met on campus for a drug deal. A student, 22-year-old Jonathan Bailey, was killed according to the Associated Press.
Authorities say they know who the alleged shooter is, but do not know who the remaining suspects are. Clarkson and Elzey, however, insisted the campus was safe.
"As police work to apprehend the people that they believe are responsible for this horrible crime, we're pulling together as a community," Elzey said. "I want to assure parents that their children are safe on this campus, that they are in good hands and that their safety is of the ultimate importance to us."
Staff Writers Natalie Caula Huff and Diane Knich contributed to this story."
The campus at S.C. State University in Orangeburg was on lockdown Friday after one student was injured in a shooting outside a dorm.×
Orangeburg Department of Public Safety use tracking dogs on College Street where witnesses say several wanted individuals seen fleeing the area.×
S.C. State University’s Hugine Suites was the scene of a fatal shooting Friday afternoon. The victim was a member of the school’s football team and an Orangeburg-Wilkinson high school graduate.×
Orangeburg Department of Public Safety uses tracking dogs on College Street, where witnesses say several wanted individuals were seen fleeing the area.×
S.C. State board Chairman William Small (from left), President Thomas Elzey, police Chief Mernard Clarkson, Orangeburg City Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman-Keitt, and Orangeburg Mayor Michael Bulter address a press conference Friday afternoon.×