AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police said Colton Tooley, a 19-year-old sophomore math major, was the gunman who shot himself to death in a library on campus at the University of Texas-Austin on Tuesday.
Austin and University of Texas police were searching his home on Western Drive in South Austin on Tuesday afternoon. Tooley, who killed himself at the Perry-Casteneda Library around 8:40 a.m. after firing shots outside on campus, was a student in UT's College of Natural Sciences.
Neighbors near the house on Western Drive said that around 11:45 a.m., family members were gathered at the home - several of them appearing distraught, with one woman sobbing.
Officials said the gunman began firing shots with his semi-automatic weapon randomly at 21st Street and University Drive. Witnesses heard at least 10 shots before they pointed police toward Tooley. Officers were able to then chase him off the streets, away from students, and into the PCL building - where he committed suicide.
No other injuries were reported, and police never fired their weapons.
On Tuesday afternoon, UT President Bill Powers - who had been giving media briefings all morning - released the following statement:
"I extend my sympathy to the family, friends, and classmates of the young student who took his life. In the days ahead we will attempt to understand his actions and to learn from this tragedy. We invite those who would like counseling services to contact the Counseling and Mental Health Center (for students) or the Employee Assistance Program (for staff and faculty)."
Gov. Perry made the following comments at a press conference in San Antonio on an unrelated subject:
“Before we get started, I want to make a brief statement regarding the incident at the University of Texas this morning.
We understand there was a shooter on the University of Texas campus this morning who is now deceased.
Additional reports of what transpired continue to flow in, but this is an ongoing investigation by law enforcement at this time.
I want to thank campus officials and law enforcement, including the Austin Police Department, DPS and others, for their swift action, that protected the students and faculty on campus this morning.
As always, they were highly-professional and swift in their response, and we are blessed to have such brave peace officers protecting our citizens.”
Just weeks before Tuesday, Austin and university police conducted a joint training exercise that prepared them for critical situations much like this.
In addition, Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo emphasized three things:
- The importance of preparedness. "It became readily apparent that the University of Texas was prepared for this situation," said Acevedo.
- Rapid response. Authorities were almost immediately on campus and chased the gunman inside the library building. Acevedo commended the students who led the way to the suspect as they kept pointing law enforcement in the right direction.
- Agency collaboration
University of Texas Police Department Chief Robert Dahlstrom said at 12:30 p.m. that a search for a potential second gunman or suspect turned up nothing - and that initial witness speculation that there may have been two threatening individuals appear to be false. He also said that multiple descriptions of the same person led to the belief of that second person.
"There is no doubt training paid off in this situation," said Dahlstrom.
Authorities said the gunman fired a minimum of four shots from a 7.62-mm firearm into the building.
Though no one was injured, EMS did treat two people for minor injuries, which police said were unrelated to the gunman but rather due to the commotion and movement in response to the incident.
The all-clear was issued for University of Texas faculty and students around noon, meaning they can leave campus but cannot go in the investigation area where the shooting took place. The PCL is the only area that is currently contained.
Authorities - in a multiagency effort - had spent several hours searching fervently for a possible second suspect after a gunman entered the University of Texas Perry Castenada library with an AK-47, fired off shots and then shot himself.
"This is a very critical incident," said UT President Bill Powers. "The University of Texas Police Department and Austin Police Department responded extremely professionally this morning."
- For more information, people are directed to call 1-866-657-9400 or (512) 471-2255.
Armored vehicles and helicopters surrounded the scene on campus as a number of agencies conducted secondary searches to eliminate explosives that could "have been left behind by one or more suspects."
K-9 officers swept areas around campus, conducting sniff searches mainly around the University Drive area.
"We are very fortunate in the fact that no one else was injured, other than the lone gunman," said UT Police Department Chief Robert Dahlstrom.
"No shots were fired by members of law enforcement," said Acevedo.
said the gunman wore all black and a ski mask.
"When you have a situation like this, you're going to get multiple descriptions," said Dahlstrom. "We have to check out every lead we get or every call we get."
Oscar Trevino said his daughter, Martina, is a University of Texas employee and was on her way to work when she saw the gunman behind her as he fired a couple of shots.
"She took off running, tripped and sprained her ankle," said Trevino.
Some people were able to help her inside a building.
Trevino said Martina is OK and has texted him throughout the morning, saying she is very shaken up. He said he is worried about his daughter calming down and "getting her head back together" and that he has not asked her any questions so she won't get details confused and will be able to talk to police and the university as needed.
"I just thank God she's fine," said Trevino.
Austin police had her and others in the basement of the Perry-Castaneda Library and were moving them by bus to police headquarters.
Adjunct UT law professor Randall Wilhite told the Austin-American Statesman he was driving toward class on University Drive - by the AT&T Conference Center - when he heard what he thought was construction noise but turned out to be gunshots.
He saw students scattering and a man in a suit carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle heading east on 21st Street.
"He ran right in front of my car, fired two or three shots south sort of generally in my direction but not at me," Wilhite said. "They seemed to hit to my left sort of in the median. It didn’t look like he was targeting individuals. He
The University of Texas Police Deparment, Austin Police Department and SWAT are all on campus. The area at 21st Street and Speedway Avenue looks like a war zone, with armored vehicles and weapons swarming that area.
"I saw the swarm when I got here," said Acevedo, adding they covered grounds in a very quick manner.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell was at the press briefing Tuesday morning and said he is "very proud" of the way the multiple agencies have responded to ensure safety. He reminded Austinites that they can be confident that they are safe.
Students were being asked to exit the Welch building with their hands up. The building is just down the street from the library.
The gunman entered the PCL at the UT campus with a weapon, fired several shots and then killed himself.
There are no other injuries reported. An ambulance could be seen just before 9 a.m. Tuesday in front of the library with its sirens on, though no people were coming out of the library.
The library is located on 21st Street and Speedway Avenue and is just across the largest dormitory on campus, Jester Residence Hall. It also across from the Gregory Gym and the Red McCombs School of Business.
Students and staff were asked to stay where they are and are being asked not to enter campus if they are not already there.
Still, some students were in the middle of an exam and had their cell phones off when the incident happened, so they missed the notification. They found out only when their professor alerted them to evacuate.
Text messages and e-mails were sent to students that read the following:
"Armed subject reported last seen at Perry Castaneda Library on 9/28/2010. Details to follow."
"At this time, UT Alert has sent a message of an armed subject near Perry Castenada Library. Details to follow. UTPD has informed Housing and Food to go into complete lock down and for residents and staff to shelter in place until further notice."
"Again, armed subject reported at Perry Castaneda Library. Shelter in place. Stay where you are at. More information to follow."
In the interest of keeping you up to date on the current emergency, I want you to know that the campus remains locked down. All students, faculty, staff, and visitors should stay indoors and continue to follow instructions (from loudspeakers, email, text messages, and uniformed police officers). You will be notified when the situation becomes stable.
The armed suspect is dead. No other injuries have been reported.
All organized classes for today, September 28, are cancelled.
Please continue to monitor email and the UT home page for updates.
Thank you for your cooperation.
"The university is closed.
A suspected shooter in PCL library is dead. Law enforcement are searching for a second suspect. If you are off campus, STAY AWAY. If you are on campus, lock doors, do not leave your building."
"UT is locked down. Classes are canceled. If you are off campus, stay away. If you are on campus, lock your doors & shelter in place."
UT shuttle routes will continue departing from campus until 2:30 p.m. After that time, it will not run since the campus is closed.
Shuttle service will resume regular schedules Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, all non-UT Shuttle routes
are running regular schedules and are no longer detoured. MetroRail connector route No. 465 will continue departing from campus until 2:30 p.m. to take customers back to their originating stations. Route No. 465 will not run on its regular schedule later Tuesday afternoon.
The Blanton Museum of Art, which neighbors the PCL, is also closed.
For more information, people are directed to call 1-866-657-9400.