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Police Searching for a Motive in FSU Library Shooting

November 19, 2014 - 6:00pm

UPDATED TO NAME THE SHOOTER: A forensic team including the Tallahassee and Florida State University police departments and the FBI remain on the scene of an early morning incident in which three students were shot at crowded Strozier Library on the FSU campus before campus police shot and killed the gunman.

"This person, for whatever reason, produced a handgun and then began shooting students in the library," FSU Police Chief David Perry told reporters at a morning news conference.

Two of the victims were taken to Level 2 trauma center Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, one of them in critical condition, the other listed as stable. The third victim was grazed, treated on the scene and released.

Officers confronted the gunman, ordered him to drop his weapon, but he fired a shot at them. After that they unleashed a volley of shots, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman Dave Northway said. Witnesses confirm it was a barrage of between 20 and 30 shots.

The gunman has been identified as an alumnus, 2005 FSU graduate Myron May, but although information about the man has been recovered, police said at 3 p.m. they still aren't sure what compelled him to go to the library and shoot three people. They have called the shooting "isolated." They believe the school is under no further threat related to this incident.

The incident began about 12:30 a.m. when the shooter entered the library with a handgun and began firing. Some 300-400 students were inside.

"The building was packed," said John Garrett, a sophomore from Seminole. "We're all cramming for final exams. ... I just finished telling my girlfriend, 'hey, thank God this place is open 24 hours,' when a voice came over the loudspeaker saying we had a shooter in the lobby. Man, we all just froze for a minute."

Freshman Daniel Morales of Fort Pierce said when he first heard someone say, "'Somebody's got a gun,' I thought he was joking." But as soon as he realized it was no joke, he and about eight students around him abandoned their belongings and ran to a second-floor room where they used desks as a barricade against the door.

Alexandra Lauren, a grad student at the school, told CNN that she was in the library at the time of the shooting."We heard the gunshots and then it was in a matter of seconds the entire first floor just seemed to go into chaos," Lauren said, her voice wavering."It was very scary. I'm just more heartbroken than anything else. FSU means a lot to me."

Most of the students escaped the building quickly and were shepherded into a classroom next to the library. They were given the all-clear to leave at about 4 a.m.

Florida State President John Thrasher, who took office earlier this month, was in New York at the time of the shooting. Contacted by AP reporters, he said he had no firsthand information." He said he was making arrangements to hurry back to Tallahassee," the AP story said.

But Thrasher issued a statement saying, "The three students who have been injured are our highest priority."

Here is Thrasher's complete statement:

The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected.

The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community. We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery.

Over the past few hours, I have received several briefings from administrators and law enforcement regarding campus safety and security, and they have established that this was an isolated incident. Florida State University and Tallahassee police departments have done an extraordinary job taking quick and decisive action to prevent further tragedy, to secure the scene and to keep campus safe. They have assured me that there is no further threat.

We are increasing security measures and providing a strong law enforcement presence on and around campus today. I have great confidence in the abilities of our local law enforcement agencies to handle this matter.

As we try to make sense of what is a senseless incident, the Counseling Center and Employee Assistance will provide counseling and support for FSU faculty, staff and students affected by these events. Should anyone need or desire such services, please contact the center at the Askew Student Life Building or call (850) 644-2003.

The university remains open today but all Thursday classes have been canceled.

"We are too frequently and too often waking up to incidences like this around the country," Tallahassee Mayor-elect Andrew Gillum said at the news conference.

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