Police announce charges in Morgan State shooting

UPDATE: Baltimore police say they have charged a 20-year-old Washington man in the shooting Friday at Morgan State University.

Keith Robertson, of the 4900 block of G St. SE, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and handgun charges, according to the department. Police said he provided a confession in the afternoon incident that wounded a student on the semester's last day of classes.

The man injured in the incident is Tyrell Okoro, a 20-year-old member of the football team from Queens New York, said Morgan spokesman Clinton R. Coleman Jr. Okoro is a sophomore offensive lineman, according to the university’s website.

Coleman said that Robertson is not a student at Morgan and university officials are trying to figure out why he was on campus.

“It is something we are aggressively pursuing, Coleman said.

He said Morgan president David Wilson  has been meeting with students and walking the campus to provide reassurance. The university is looking into what more it can do to make the university safer, Coleman said.

Students fanned out in panic on the south side of campus outside the Clarence W. Blount Towers and the Thurgood Marshall complex just before 1 p.m., running through the dormitory courtyard after hearing a number of shots.

Freshman Monique King said she was walking between classes when she saw a member of the football team fall to the ground.

"I was on the phone with my mother, and she was kind of frantic," said King, who watched a teammate take off the victim's shirt and apply pressure to his wounded leg until paramedics arrived.

Baltimore police took Robertson into custody as a "person of interest" not long after arriving on campus. The university said before Robertson was identified by name that the person taken in by police was not a Morgan student.

Police also recovered a semiautomatic handgun in the vicinity. A number of people described by police as witnesses were handcuffed and had white bags placed over their hands to preserve possible gunshot residue, police said.

"It looks as if it grew from a dispute between two individuals," university spokesman Clint Coleman said, "and that dispute resulted in one person being shot."

The shooting victim, who was not identified by police or the university, was taken to an area hospital. His injuries were not considered life-threatening, Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Saturday morning, the department said in a statement that the victim is 19, and suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his torso.

The shooting is the third high-profile act of violence related to the university this year.

Michael Antonio Campbell, a 19-year-old who was not a Morgan student, was shot in the campus student center in September while visiting his cousin, a member of the school's football team. Police charged a 20-year-old Northeast Baltimore resident, Kelly Lamont Ellerbee, in that shooting; he will be arraigned next month on nine charges, including attempted first- and second-degree murder.

University spokesman Jarrett Carter said Friday's shooting is unrelated to that incident.

In May, a 21-year-old Morgan student was accused of killing and dismembering a man living in Harford County, allegedly eating parts of his heart and brain.

That student, Alexander Kinyua, is being held at a psychiatric facility after being found not fit to stand trial. He had acted erratically on campus in the months leading up to the killing, and had been charged with attacking a fellow student.

Both Guglielmi and Carter stressed that the university is secure despite the incidents. Campus and city police have drilled together on shooting scenarios since a gunman killed his mother and himself at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2010, Guglielmi said.

In a message to the university community, President David Wilson wrote that steps have been taken to keep the campus safe. "We have hired additional police officers and security guards for our evening and night shifts and deployed them at strategic locations throughout the campus, implemented an anonymous tip-line allowing students, faculty and staff to report suspicious activity on and around the campus, and we continue our educational campaigns to promote individual responsibility and collective common sense about crime prevention strategies and best practices."

Wilson also noted that "all exams will continue as scheduled and I have asked the Division of Academic Affairs to provide accommodations to any students adversely affected by today's incident."

City police officers arrived on the scene quickly, led by Capt. Rick Rutherford. A former SWAT lieutenant trained to handle "active shooter" situations, Rutherford is the deputy commander of the Northeastern District police station — which is adjacent to the campus.

Carter said students were notified through a campus-wide text messaging alert system, emails, Twitter posts and the school's website to stay indoors and lock their doors. He said Morgan has been stressing safety all year through its "See Something, Say Something" campaign, which urges students to text or call in suspicious activity.

"I absolutely believe we're where campus security needs to be," Carter said.

Many students seemed more frustrated than scared at the violence on campus.

"I'm very disappointed to hear the news," said Christian Smooth, 22. "Another bad story at Morgan."

Morgan has also been struggling with a rise in robberies, something the university acknowledged just a day earlier in a public safety update to students. The update said patrols were increased on and around campus after armed robbers held up a student outside Holmes Hall. Later Thursday night, police arrested a person fitting the description of one of the suspects and found him illegally in possession of a handgun.

"We're definitely trying to move up as a campus and develop ourselves as a community, and hopefully people will think this is not the norm," sophomore electrical engineering major Khir Henderson said.

Elaine Smith said city police were overreacting. Her son, a sophomore, was taken into custody as a witness, she said, and she stood outside crime scene tape on Friday asking detectives and officers about him. A detective confirmed to her that he was not a suspect or victim, but no one could tell her where he was.

"I just want to know where my son is at," she said. "They done stormed his dorm. He shot nobody."

Just before 4 p.m., police began winding up crime tape that had cordoned off dorms for several hours, allowing students back in to begin preparing for final exams.

"It's the last day of classes and finals are next week," said sophomore Cavon Caudle, 18. "It's just hard to focus on what we should be focusing on."

Baltimore Sun reporters Childs Walker, Ian Duncan and Brian Waters contributed to this article.





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