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Delaware State University clarifies 4 were shot Saturday on campus, including 2 students

Hannah Edelman - Delaware Online

Delaware State University officials confirmed Tuesday that four people — two of whom were students — were shot early Saturday morning when a non-student began firing into a crowd near the campus basketball courts.

The injured students are doing "much better," said DSU President Tony Allen in an online public forum Tuesday, but gave no specific details. He did not provide an update on the condition of the other two people hospitalized after the incident.

A university spokesman later said the two students injured are an 18-year-old woman who is a freshman and a 22-year-old man who is a sophomore. No information was provided about the two people who DSU said are not students.

The details are the latest in a shifting narrative from DSU, which first sent out an alert about the shooting three days ago. The early morning alert stated that four people were shot sometime after 1 a.m. outside the school's Wellness and Recreation Center in Dover, according to slightly differing reports from the Dover Police Department and the university.

Later that day, DSU spokesperson Carlos Holmes said the emergency alert was wrong, and that only two unidentified students were injured. He also would not respond to whether shots were fired into a crowd of students — a fact which DSU Police Department Chief Bobby Cummings confirmed during the forum Tuesday.

"It is important to us that when incidents happen on campus that we deliver communication (and) candid responses within a timely fashion," Allen said at the same forum.

Cummings said on Tuesday that the shooting is still under investigation, and no suspect has been identified. The police chief cited robbery as a possible motive and said there are no "ongoing threats" at DSU related to the incident.

DSU is "working very, very thoughtfully and candidly to bring (the perpetrators) to justice," according to Allen.

Tightening security on campus

This is not gun violence's first appearance at DSU. In 2007, the university made national headlines when two freshmen were shot, one fatally. More recently, in 2015, three people

were struck by gunfire at an annual student cookout.

The university president said the school will continue to increase security, especially around the basketball courts where there currently isn't a "welcome center" vetting visitors at the nearby gate. The idea to add these security checkpoints to gates other than the main one was "a good suggestion," Cummings said.

While the gates do close at night, Allen said that "the reality is that (DSU is) an open campus and there are multiple ways to get on the campus, not unlike any other university in the country."

He pointed out some of the existing security in place besides the gate, including 30 campus police officers, a "robust camera system" and ID checks.

Still, Student Government Association President David Hawkins said at Tuesday's forum that it has been "a very dark period for the university." He said he's noticed lower student engagement since the shooting.

"A lot of students weren't really expecting to come on to campus and for anything like this to ever happen," Hawkins said.

Students affected by the shooting have had access to counselors on campus since Sunday morning, Allen said.

The DSU Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment since Saturday's shooting.

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