WOODBRIDGE, Va. (CBS/AP) Northern Virginia Community College was on lockdown yesterday as SWAT teams swarmed the campus, after a student, Jason Michael Hamilton, opened fire in a classroom with a high-powered rifle, according to police.
(AP/Prince William County Police)
Photo: Jason Michael Hamilton.
Hamilton did not hit anyone and no injuries were reported following the afternoon shooting at the school's Woodbridge campus, about 25 miles south of Washington, D.C.
The 20-year-old student from Manassas, Va. was arrested in a hallway and charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm in a school zone. He was being held without bond. Whether Hamilton had hired an attorney was not immediately clear.
Prince William County Police spokeswoman Kim Chinn said the student, armed with a high-powered rifle, fired several shots and left the classroom. Officers found him in a hallway where he was cooperative and was taken into custody, Chinn said.
The spokeswoman said an unidentified teacher ducked when the student opened fire.
"When she saw the gun, she hit the floor," Chinn said.
Hamilton did not have the gun when he was arrested, but told police where it was, the spokeswoman said.
Chinn said she didn't know exactly where Hamilton's rifle was found, but it wasn't in the classroom.
Police spokeswoman Sharon Richardson said officers responded about 2:40 p.m. to an "active shooter" situation following reports of a gunman in the main administration building.
Photo: Northern Virginia Community College's campus in Woodbridge, Va.
The college enacted its emergency lockdown procedures and later issued a statement saying all Woodbridge classes were cancelled Tuesday because of the shooting. Some students, faculty and staff were sent to a nearby high school.
All classrooms are in one building and the students were in lockdown until about 5:30 p.m. Swat teams went into each classroom during the lockdown, said Chinn, who didn't know how many students were inside or how many shots were fired.
Biology professor Miriam St. Clair, of McLean, Va., said "we heard a loud noise, it sounded like a desk fell over and we heard another loud pop, we knew it was a gunshot."
St. Clair, 58, said she looked out the window and saw students running. The professor said she told her students to get inside the classroom and they closed the door, which did not have a lock, and barricaded themselves inside by piling about 20 desks against the door, crouching behind other desks in the room.
One of the students called 911 and the operator told them to stay where they were. About 2½ hours later, a SWAT team came into the classroom and told them it was safe.
"We were very frightened," St. Clair said.
Two police cars were outside the suspect's home in an affluent new subdivision, but officers wouldn't let reporters close. Neighbor Daren Edwards, 38, said Hamilton's parents moved to the subdivision about three years ago and Hamilton lived in the basement. Edwards said he sometimes saw him jogging alone, or with his mother.
"He's always by himself, he's always isolated," Edwards said.