1 dead, 3 wounded in shooting at Northern Arizona University

Police officers investigate a shooting at Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic via AP)

Police officers investigate a shooting at Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff, Ariz., Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. (Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic via AP)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A Northern Arizona University freshman told police he was hit in the face during a late night confrontation and then tried to render first aid after he opened fire on four fraternity members, killing one and wounding three, according to court documents released Friday.

Steven Jones, 18, was found alongside the four victims in a campus parking lot Friday shortly after the 1:20 a.m. shootings. Jones told a responding campus police officer that he had opened fire, the arrest report said.

Jones told investigators that several people approached him and two friends while they were outside a residence. A fight broke out between the two groups, and Jones said he was hit in the face. According to the suspect, a group came out of the house and chased him. He ran to his car and retrieved a handgun. Two of the victims had stopped following him but turned around when he yelled that he had a gun. Jones said he shot them both but then tried to help one of them.

A friend of Jones said the first victim asked Jones why he brought a gun before the suspect shot him multiple times, police said. The second victim was shot after taking a step in Jones’ direction, according to the witness. Both were standing no more than 10 feet away.

A group tried to subdue Jones, who fired a shot in the air. Jones said he then dropped his firearm, which had a flashlight attached to it.

University police chief Gregory T. Fowler identified Jones as the shooter and said he used a handgun in the 1:20 a.m. shootings.

Jones was booked Friday for one count of first-degree homicide and three counts of aggravated assault.

The victims were all members of the Delta Chi fraternity, the organization said in a statement. The university identified the student who died as Colin Brough. The victims being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center are Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring. The hospital said it couldn’t release any information on conditions.

“This is not going to be a normal day at NAU,” said school President Rita Cheng. “Our hearts are heavy.”

She called it an isolated and unprecedented incident and said classes would go on as scheduled Friday.

The parking lot where the shooting happened is just outside Mountain View Hall dormitory on the Flagstaff campus, which provides housing for many of the campus’ sororities and fraternities. The gate to the dorm’s main entrance was closed Friday, and police had the surrounding area taped off.

Brough was from Castle Rock, Colorado, about 30 miles south of downtown Denver. He loved to play lacrosse and wanted to be successful so he could help other people, said his cousin, Ryan Jernegan of Woodbury, New Jersey.

“He was the happiest person that you probably would ever meet,” Jernegan said.

He worked as a cashier at the Puma outlet store in Castle Rock during the summer after graduating high school. Manager Chauncey Musser remembered him as an outgoing employee with a seemingly bottomless supply of energy.

Alex McIntosh, a friend of Zientek, said he worked part time at the High Country Conference Center while attending school full time.

“He’s very calm, very respectful, has a great manner, calm demeanor and you’d never expect him to be caught up in something like this,” McIntosh said.

Student Maria Gonzalez told The Associated Press that she at first suspected firecrackers when the shooting happened.

“I was studying for an exam, so I looked out the window and see two people running, and that’s when I realized they weren’t fireworks, they were actually gunshots,” she said.

The Flagstaff shooting comes on the same day that President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Roseburg, Oregon, where eight students and a teacher were shot and killed last week at Umpqua Community College. The gunman in the Oregon shooting wounded nine others before turning the gun on himself.

NAU is a four-year public university that has more than 25,000 total undergraduate students at the campus in Flagstaff, a city about two hours north of Phoenix that is surrounded by mountains and ponderosa pines. The city of 70,000 people has a reputation for being a safe place and typically records only one murder per year.

“It’s crazy. You don’t think this stuff happens. When I think of Flagstaff, I think safety,” said freshman Cameron Sands, who had pledged at a fraternity and was supposed to move into Mountain View Hall on Friday.

ArizonaFlagstaffNAUNorthern Arizona UniversityShootingUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read