Officials at Coastal Carolina University confirmed early Wednesday that one student was killed in a shooting near the campus Tuesday evening.
CCU spokeswoman Martha Hunn said in an emailed press release that Anthony Darnell Liddell, 19, a sophomore from Bennettsville, died Tuesday as a result of a shooting incident at University Place residence hall.
The release said that CCU Department of Public Safety Police Chief David Roper has determined at the time that currently there was no apparent threat to students, faculty or staff, but residence halls were to remain on lockdown through the night.
Classes were held Wednesday as scheduled. University Place was eerily silent late Tuesday as police continued their search for a shooter who forced a campus lockdown.
Hunn said the shooting happened at University Place at 7:22 p.m. Tuesday night. An alert was issued via email and text messages that a shooter was on campus and students were to remain where they were.
Hunn said Liddell had been taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.
Liddell was a sophomore who was majoring in sports medicine and hoped to become a physical therapist, said his aunt, Adriane Gillespie Davis. She said he had loved sports since he was a child and in high school played football for the Marlboro County High School Bulldogs, but he also loved basketball and baseball, and still played recreational sports. He was also in National Beta Club, graduating with honors, and she said he never had the issues that many teenagers do.
“We had no indication whatsoever that we would be burying my nephew at 19 years old,” said Adriane Gillespie Davis. “He had such a promising, bright future.”
University Place resident Kaitlin Eriksen was inside her balcony when she heard four or five shots in quick succession. She went on her balcony to see where the shots came from and saw the victim, a man, fall against the back of his car’s rear window.
“He took about two steps back and then collapsed. He just fell out there,” Eriksen said.
CCU freshman Katrina Shuleski lives in University Place and was home at the time of the shooting. She didn’t hear anything, but did go outside and saw a crowd of dozens standing around.
“I just saw somebody laying on the ground,” she said.
Luke Smith, another freshman, also lives at University Place. He was tutoring on campus when he got a text about the shooting. He said he went to a campus grille to get some food after the lockdown was put in place.
Both students were walking through University Place’s parking lot around 9:30 p.m., with fellow freshman Katelyn Smith, who is Luke Smith’s cousin.
Katelyn Smith lives at a nearby apartment complex and immediately called both Luke Smith and Shuleski when she got a text alert about the shooting.
Despite the scary nature of what happened, all three said they still believe CCU is a fairly safe campus.
Student Dan Murphy, who lives at the nearby Sandhill Sea apartment complex, went to a gas station on his bicycle after getting the news. He was still riding it around 9:30 p.m.
“I’m not that afraid,” Murphy said. “Should I be?”
It was scary for freshman James Paigo, who was exercising at a campus gym when he heard about the shooting. It was even more frightening running from the gym and knowing a shooter was somewhere nearby.
“The veil of secrecy definitely goes away,” Paigo said, referring to a sense of security on campus where more than 9,000 students are enrolled.
Shootings on or near school campuses have received heightened attention following the December shooting in a Newtown, Conn. elementary school and it didn’t take long for word of the lockdown and search at CCU to move across cyberspace. News organizations across the state were carrying the story and by 9:51 p.m., even the Huffington Post had tweeted about the lockdown and search for a suspect.
That search continued at press time.
CCU Counseling Services professionals and ministers will be available beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday at CCU’s Lackey Chapel to provide assistance to students. Counseling staff will also be available at the Grand Strand Activity House, located at University Place, and at Eaglin and Ingle residence halls. Counseling staff has also been assisting students at University Place since the shooting was reported.
Anyone who has information about the shooting can call CCU’s public safety department at (843) 349-2177.