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Texas campus tense after shooting

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By Jim Forsyth

Dallas - A second person was being sought on Wednesday in connection with a shooting on a community college campus near Houston that left three people wounded.

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said the shooting at Lone Star College took place during a “ridiculous confrontation” between Carlton Berry, 22, who has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and Jody Neal, 25, who will not face criminal charges.

Garcia told a press conference that he does not know what role the person who is being sought may have played in the incident and that police were still gathering information. “There is still a loose end that we need to clear up,” he said.

The shooting at the college, which has 10 000 students, was the latest incident at a US school since a gunman massacred 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, in December. Garcia said his deputies had been in contact with local schools since last month's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, and that they had conducted active shooter exercises.

Of the shooting at Lone Star College, Garcia said: “This was a ridiculous confrontation. This was about an individual who did not care about putting people in harm's way.”

“Somebody thought in their peanut-sized brain that pulling a firearm on a college campus would be the way to solve it.”

He said he did not know what prompted the argument.

College President Stephen Head said the campus was open on Wednesday and that three forums were being held on campus to discuss the violence. “They were jittery,” he said of students and staffers. “They had a lot of questions.”

Berry had a student identification card for the college but Garcia said he may not actually be a student there. He had a single gunshot wound that apparently was self-inflicted, the sheriff said.

Berry was being held in a hospital ward of the Harris County Jail on $60 000 bond, according to jail records, and due to appear in court on Thursday.

Neal, who was in the college library working on his high school equivalency certificate, was on campus for “legitimate purposes”, Garcia said, adding that Neal was hospitalised for gunshot wounds to the leg and abdomen.

Caught in the crossfire and wounded was Bobby Cliburn, 55, who Garcia said was a maintenance worker at the college.

The sheriff said at least 10 shots had been fired and that the weapon used in the shooting had been brought to that campus and fired by Berry. He said it has not been recovered, and that he did not know whether Berry had a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

The college is part of the Lone Star College System, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, according to its website. Student enrollment is 90 000 and there are six colleges in the system. - Reuters

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