CASPER, Wyo. – A man wielding a sharp-edged weapon killed one person in a Casper neighborhood Friday before killing a male teacher and himself in front of students in a community college classroom, causing a campus-wide lockdown as authorities tried to piece together what happened.
Police found the suspect and one of the victims dead at a science building on the Casper College campus, which was locked down for about two hours, school and police officials said. The other victim was found about two miles away.
Casper Police Chief Chris Walsh said the murder-suicide took place in a classroom with students present, but he did not know how many students or what the class topic was.
He said investigators do not know the motive for the killings.
Walsh said an “edged weapon” was used during at least one of the killings, but he did not offer specifics, and it wasn’t clear if the same or a similar weapon was used in all of the deaths.
The attacker wasn’t believed to be a Casper College student and it appeared he knew the victims, Walsh said. He didn’t identify the suspect or victims but said the victims were a male and a female.
“We’re locating next of kin and working on notification absolutely as fast as we can,” Walsh said.
He said authorities don’t believe there was any further threat to the community.
“I want to emphasize that this is a horrible tragedy,” Walsh said. “And I want the city to ... just feel safe right now. There is no one at large.”
The attack at the two-year community college in Casper, about 250 miles northwest of Denver, occurred just before 9 a.m. while class was in session.
“On the third floor we located a crime scene, and secured that,” Walsh said. He said authorities evacuated all students and staff from the science building.
The college sent out a campus-wide alert via text message and email within two minutes of receiving word of the attack at 9:06 a.m., school spokesman Rich Fujita said. The lockdown ended at about 11 a.m. after school officials received word police were no longer searching for a suspect, Fujita said.
There are fewer classes on Friday than any other day of the week at Casper College, so only between 1,500 and 2,000 of the college’s 5,000 students were there, he said. Casper College is one of seven community colleges in Wyoming.
Political science instructor Chris Henrichsen said he was showing the film “Frost/Nixon” to his Wyoming and U.S. government class when he stepped into the hall to get something for a student and was told a homicide had occurred on campus.
He went back to his classroom, where students were getting messages about the campus lockdown on their phones.
“We locked the door and waited for further instruction,” Henrichsen said.
The students were later sent home, but some who parked near a different campus building where the attack occurred had to leave their cars there, Henrichsen said.
About two miles away, Dave Larsen said he was headed to the gym when he drove past a body in a gutter with two people standing over it, one talking on a cellphone.
Larsen lives about a block from the location of the body, a well-kept neighborhood of mostly single-story houses.
Emergency vehicles had the street blocked off Friday afternoon.
Associated Press writers Ben Neary in Cheyenne and Matt Volz in Helena, Mont., contributed to this report.