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CAUGHT ON VIDEO: Gunfire rings out during GSU homecoming

Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 9:08 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 12:45 AM CDT
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GRAMBLING, La. (KNOE) - A fight broke out and, seconds later, the apparent sound of gunfire scattered a packed crowd attending homecoming at Grambling State University over the weekend.

The Oct. 17 shooting claimed one life and injured seven others, leaving one in critical condition. A witness, identifying himself as Cordarryl Albert, says he was recording when it happened. Albert catches part of a fight on video. Within seconds, successive sounds of ‘pop, pop, pop’ can be heard, coming from somewhere else it appears, just after the camera turns in another direction. Albert catches a chaotic scene on camera as the crowd reacts to the sound of over a dozen ‘pops’ before the video goes out. (The fight Albert was first recording does not appear to be related to the shooting.)

You can watch the video above.

Grambling State officials and Louisiana State Police confirmed the mass shooting happened on campus around 1:30 a.m. Of the eight victims, only one was a student. That student suffered non-life-threatening injuries. During a news conference the following afternoon, state police said they had no suspects and the motive for the shooting was not clear. It’s also unclear how many shooters might have been involved and whether they were exchanging gunfire, shooting at unarmed people, or haphazardly shooting without regard to bystanders. As such, witnesses are asked to contact state police with any information they think might be relevant.

This is the second deadly shooting at GSU this week. The suspect in an Oct. 13 shooting is still wanted. That shooting left one dead and another injured and, of all three people involved, none was a student.

Louisiana State Police spokesperson Michael Reichhardt assured the public that both investigations are moving forward. The two shootings don’t appear to be connected but Reichhardt warned that investigations can take time so we may have immediate answers.

“Our investigators are doing everything they can. They’ve worked throughout the night and throughout the whole day to talk to witnesses to go over all the evidence that we have,” Reichhardt said. “There were several different law enforcement agencies here throughout the week, but just remember this does take time for us and it’s a process and a sequence of things that we have to do.”

President Gallot, who spent his childhood on campus, eyes safer school

After Sunday’s shooting, GSU President Rick Gallot addressed the media and lamented another life lost despite working with multiple law enforcement agencies across the northern half of the state to prevent it from happening.

“Our campus community worked tirelessly to ensure that our students and others were safe for homecoming activities,” Gallot said. “Yet, with all of our planning, all of our coordination ... the entire Grambling State University Police Department along with our [Lincoln Parish] sheriff, Stephen Williams, who’s here with us, all of our local parish, regional, and state law enforcement partners, we still find ourselves grieving the loss of life and injuries, just as too many communities in our country have experienced as well. Why would someone come to the campus of your old Grambling and commit an act of violence as we prepare to celebrate our 120th year?”

“Additional troopers were allocated to work day in and day out prior to the events,” LSP Major Cordell Williams said. “Having not just patrol but every section of Louisiana State Police, plainclothes, etc. were working diligently prior to ensure the safety of our students and our homecomers.”

Officials said the sheer number of people who were at Grambling to experience homecoming presented challenges in keeping the campus completely free from violence this week. They said GSU students come from 40 states and about three dozen foreign countries, so all kinds of people should be expected.

“Everybody in other states, other countries knows the history and knows of Grambling State University. So there are a lot of people here from all parts,” Reichardt said. “You should almost expect that type of people to come here, you know, and especially during homecoming week.”

“We had thousands of Grambling alumni or Gram Fam, as we like to say, who came here and got exactly what it was that they came here to do,” Gallot said. “And that was to see their friends and classmates, to tailgate, to attend the game without any, you know, problems whatsoever.”

Having been a fixture at the school for nearly his entire life, Gallot addressed the refrain that outsiders are to blame for violence at the school and touched on current and future plans to restrict outsider access to campus events when it makes sense.

“Now, I will tell you at times I’ve heard from students who say, ‘Prez, this is harassing, that the police want to see my ID to make sure I’m a student.’ We’re already doing those things and so we will continue to be vigilant with that. We’ve already set up roadblocks which restrict car traffic during the evenings, you know, curfews as necessary. We will, collectively, again along with our students and with our law enforcement partners, you know, we will find ways to continue to ensure our students’ safety.”

“Going forward, we will be engaging with our student leaders as these plans are being further developed. For the past several months we’ve already been working on our campus master plan project. Priority will be made to accelerate our public safety component ... Far too often it’s outsiders who have created these situations that have put life and limb in danger.”

Gallot agreed that action must be taken to keep armed outsiders who disregard the law away from campus and promised to do so, but he stood up for law-abiding visitors with good intentions.

“You know, I attended nursery school through college on this campus. This is not the first homecoming. I’ve attended 55, so I’ve been to a lot and I can tell you that having high school bands to come to march in our parade is an annual thing that we do without incident year after year,” he said. He talked about how people from all over the country and different parts of the world come to GSU for an education or to visit. “About outsiders, as you would say, being here, the difference now is outsiders who have a reckless disregard for the safety of others here on campus.”

Gallot said GSU is a good school with good students and alumni then expounded on the unique ways in which the school stands out.

“Let me be clear,” Gallot said. “We have thousands of visitors on our campus this past week who had a great time watching our victorious G-Men football team win our homecoming game. Thousands of tailgaters who came here celebrated homecoming and returned back to their homes safely. We had alumni here this week who work in the entertainment industry who served on a panel to discuss with our students how Grambling provided the foundation for their success. Visitors marvel at the nearly completed digital library which is the first of its kind in our state and of all HBCUs and visited our cyber security and cloud computing departments to see firsthand the state’s first and only programs in this emerging technology, but of course, that’s not why all of you have descended on our campus on a sunny Sunday afternoon.”

Louisiana State Police spokesperson Michael Reichhardt addressed information circulating online that bulletins we sent out regarding possible threats to GSU. At least one bulletin named a specific person who was suspected of having plans to carry out violence at GSU. He said he believed law enforcement contact was made with those individuals, “I’m not sure if they were arrested for anything, but I think they were detained and, of course, that’s part of the investigation.”

“State police has a vested interest in our partnerships with our presidents, with our colleges, with our universities and that’s throughout the state of Louisiana,” Major Williams said. “We want to ensure everyone’s safety.”

One of the first actions taken in response to this shooting is a curfew. For now, it is in effect until further notice. The school said on its website, “After consultation with student leaders, it was concluded that a curfew will be enforced from 9:30 p.m. through 6 a.m.” You can find further information here.

You can contact Louisiana State Police at (318) 345-0000 or GSU police at (318) 374-2222.

Watch Gallot’s full statements and get further details from Louisiana State Police:

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