4 sought after SC State student shot, killed

cwinston@thestate.comJanuary 24, 2014 

— The search for suspects in a Friday afternoon shooting that left an S.C. State University football player dead has been moved off-campus after the college was placed on lockdown for several hours following the incident.

The Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office has identified 20-year-old Brandon Alexander Robinson as the victim in the shooting that took place outside of a campus dormitory. Robinson was taken to The Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, where he was later pronounced dead.

“He was a good student,” said S.C. State University president Thomas J. Elzey, who became emotional during a Friday evening briefing in the university’s administration building.

S.C. State Police Chief Mernard Clarkson said Friday evening that the State Law Enforcement Division has taken the lead in the investigation. But he confirmed that police are trying to identify four people who were in the area at the time of the incident and have identified at least one person of interest. He did not disclose that individual’s name and said no suspects were in custody.

Police have no motive for the shooting, Clarkson said.

Police were called to the Andrew Hugine Suites Living and Learning dorm on campus around 1:30 p.m. Friday. S.C. State officials called SLED for assistance shortly after the shooting occurred, SLED spokesman Thom Berry said. Once the student died, the case fell under SLED’s jurisdiction because of a state law that requires the agency to investigate all on-campus deaths, Berry said.

S.C. State and nearby Claflin University were on lockdown for several hours on Friday afternoon, as police searched the perimeters of the campuses. Shortly after the shooting, an emergency siren was activated at S.C. State and could be heard across both campuses for several hours.

As of 6 p.m., both campuses were off lockdown. S.C. State restricted campus entrance to the rear gate off Chestnut Street, which is customary after 6 p.m. each day, but campus remained under heightened security Friday night.

“Members of the campus community are asked to remain alert and report any suspicious activity,” Clarkson said. “Students are safe. The perimeter of the campus is secure.”

Students at both universities said they had little information about the incident but were advised to stay inside by means of campus-wide text messages, email alerts and other emergency notifications. And while the two campuses remained largely barren for much of the afternoon, a handful of students could been seen walking around outside.

S.C. State senior Aaron Riley, who lives off campus, said he heard about the incident shortly after it happened, when he was in the administration building, and said the sirens were ringing by the time he got outside. Riley, who was on he way home late Friday afternoon, said most students were staying inside.

According to the S.C. State Bulldogs football website, Robinson was a redshirt junior who played on the defensive line. He was a native of Orangeburg.

S.C. State and area law enforcement officials said their top priority will be ensuring the safety of other students while the search for the suspects continues.

“South Carolina State University will maintain a safe and secure environment for our faculty, staff and students,” said Elzey, who has been president since April. “Of course our first order of business here is to make sure our students are safe and cared for during this very difficult time.”

The S.C. State Police Department, the city of Orangeburg Public Safety Department and the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Department are continuing to support SLED in the investigation.

“I have the fullest confidence in our law enforcement officials to successfully bring this investigation to a close and arrest those responsible,” Elzey said.

S.C. State University is a historically black university with about 3,200 students in Orangeburg, about 40 miles south of Columbia.

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