No leads yet as investigators continue hunt for Coastal Carolina shooter

bdickerson@thesunnews.comFebruary 27, 2013 

  • More information If you go: What | Candlelight vigil for Anthony Liddell When | 6 p.m. Where | Coastal Carolina University, Edwards Courtyard near Robin W. and Thomas Edwards College of Humanities

— The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division continues its hunt for the person responsible for shooting a Coastal Carolina University student to death at an off-campus apartment complex.

What investigators still don’t have is a motive or a suspect description.

Thom Berry, SLED spokesman, said a crime scene unit joined regional agents at University Place apartments and began processing the scene. Witness interviews were done Tuesday night and continued Wednesday. It is standard practice for SLED to be the lead agency for such incidents involving a college campus.

Berry said Wednesday night he had not gotten a briefing from regional agents on what they have pieced together.

An incident report stated police were sent to University Place at 7:22 p.m. When they arrived, they found 19-year-old sophomore Anthony Darnell Liddell, of Bennettsville, laying in the parking lot with people around him trying to render aid. Officers called for EMS and the victim was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.

Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler said Liddell was pronounced dead at Grand Strand Regional at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. He added the victim died as a result of at least a single gunshot wound to the chest that caused massive bleeding.

Tuesday’s shooting set off a campus-wide lockdown as police searched for the gunman. Emails and text alerts were sent to students telling them to stay where they were.

The shooting and lockdown came days after school officials attended a state campus safety conference ijn Myrtle Beach.

CCU spokeswoman Martha Hunn said emergency protocol was followed as prescribed. Residence hall lockdowns continued through the night Tuesday, and were eventually suspended after campus officials determined there was no apparent threat to students, faculty or staff. Classes resumed as scheduled on Wednesday.

Hunn said additional campus officers were on duty patrolling Wednesday. The guard station was scheduled to open earlier Wednesday evening, and extra officers worked the night’s CCU basketball game against Winthrop.

After these initial few days, the next step is examining the university’s response plan.

“When the university has moved through this phase of the response plan and has had the chance to debrief it, that’s the time that all parties involved share information to determine if any changes need to be made in how we manage these kinds of incidents,” Hunn said.

The exact day that debrief will occur, Hunn added, hasn’t been set.

Anne Glavin, police chief at California State University in Northbridge, Calif. and president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcment Administrators, said text and email alerts sent after a campus shooting are required through federal law and are standing operating procedure these days for the majority of colleges.

Glavin was a speaker at last week’s South Carolina Linda B. Floyd Campus Safety Conference in Myrtle Beach. She spent Wednesday in Washington D.C. talking about the hot-button issue of gun violence, and heard about the CCU shooting via media accounts.

“These types of situations happen with too much frequency,” Glavin said.

She added the priority now is making sure students and faculty still feel safe on campus. Providing extra security at big events like the CCU basketball game is something that would generally be done.

Several students near University Place Tuesday night said the shooting didn’t make them feel CCU was a dangerous place to attend. Still, Glavin said some people will never again feel safe because they’re rocked by this type of tragedy.

“They’re very tough situations,” she said.

Gov. Nikki Haley said “knee-jerk reactions” aren’t needed when talk comes to whether or not to make changes in campus security.

Haley feels every university needs to see what they have in terms of protection and what they are doing to protect the areas around campus.

“But what you can’t do, you can’t keep somebody from going out and buying ammunition in a parking lot or anywhere else,” Haley said. “You can’t control the emotions of that person. You can’t control what happens before it.

“What you do is hope that every campus makes sure it is secure as possible.”

Contact reporter BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.

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