Grambling State University’s homecoming weekend was interrupted by a person, not enrolled, who fired shots in the quad area of the campus, killing one person and injuring seven. The person who died was also not an enrolled student.
One person was in critical condition, and the other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to Louisiana State Police. One Grambling student was among those treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The Historically Black College/University canceled homecoming events scheduled for Oct. 17. Classes on Oct. 18 and 19 were also canceled.
Grambling State University President Rick Gallot, who is also an alum of the school, reflected on the entire day of Oct. 16. Thousands of people were on campus for the homecoming parade and football game. The weather was beautiful, he said. A midnight breakfast was getting ready to start when the incident occurred at about 1:15 a.m. on Oct. 17.
“If you want to tell the whole story of the day, it is that thousands of people did come to Grambling and return home safely without any incident whatsoever,” Mr. Gallot said to The Final Call. “And so, when you think about this shooting incident involving non-students who, for whatever reason, decided to bring violence to our campus, it really just spoiled what would have been an incredibly successful Homecoming day and night.”
Mustapha Muhammad, a freshman majoring in engineering technology, was out with friends and his cousin when the shooting occurred. He said the freshman dorms, where he lives, are right across from the quad.
“Me, my cousin and our two friends, we were leaning against a bus stop just watching everything go down,” he said.
He said they heard several shots, and all he could remember is his survival mode kicking in, as people around him ran and hopped into cars. “I was really kicked into survival mode to make sure I was safe and make sure my cousin was safe. And then once I made it back to my dorm, I made sure that my family that I knew was on the campus was safe as well,” he said.
The university implemented a curfew for students from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. The curfew will be in place through the remainder of the semester. Mr. Gallot said there will be some exceptions for students who work off campus. Those students were provided forms to complete so that the university police will know they are authorized to return to campus. Administration will also be coordinating with the leadership of student groups involved in the other fall sports to ensure they are kept safe.
There is one additional home football game on Nov. 13. The president will be in meetings to talk about changes to the game day experience. “We simply cannot, at this point, risk having people staying around on campus into the night and risking these types of events occurring again,” he said.
As a further safety measure, Mr. Gallot said the university is relying on checkpoint and identification protocols that were implemented last year due to Covid-19.
The shooting was the second one that occurred during the university’s homecoming week. Mustapha Muhammad noted that the first one occurred on Oct. 13 near the cafeteria and was also done by a person who was not enrolled in the university. It left a 19-year-old dead and a 16-year-old injured.
The city of Grambling is located between Shreveport and Monroe.
Mustapha Muhammad said he won’t say that the shootings are a Grambling problem. “I feel like it’s a gun violence problem because, beforehand, before homecoming came, none of this was really happening,” he said.
He explained that students are not causing the commotion. “It’s really people off campus trying to bring certain stuff to our campus, which is something I find a big issue in. And I know a lot of people want the Grambling campus to be closed, but it’s kind of hard when it’s off of an interstate or a main highway. So, that’s the only issue I see in people’s solutions,” he said.
Student Government Association president Cameron T. Jackson echoed those concerns and others in a statement released Oct. 17. “We need to talk about safety. We need to talk about security. However, we can’t talk about it because there is not an ounce of trust with the ones who are here in these positions to protect us,” he said.
An investigation is underway and being led by Louisiana State Police, according to the university. The university also said counseling services are available to all students and employees.
“This is clearly much, much bigger than Grambling. The abundance of weapons that are on the street of America, are in the hands of Americans, now, I think is something that we really are at a crossroads, quite frankly,” Mr. Gallot said.
Louisiana State Police issued an arrest warrant for Jatavious Carroll, 18, in connection with the Oct. 13 shooting. Television station KTVE reported the young man was charged with one count of second-degree murder, one count of attempted second-degree murder and a count of possessing a firearm on school property.