Frostburg campus mourns after fatal shooting of student

Students and administrators at Frostburg State University shared grief and disbelief Monday after a deadly weekend shooting shattered the usual peace of their remote campus in the Western Maryland mountains.

Frostburg sophomore Tyrone Hall, 21, is accused of shooting two fellow students, both members of the school's basketball team, with a shotgun early Sunday morning after a fight that began at an off-campus party. The Glen Burnie native, who was a high school soccer star in Baltimore, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder and is being held without bond at the Allegany County Detention Center.

Hall told police he fired in self-defense after both men lunged at him, according to charging documents released Monday.

Brandon Carroll, a 20-year-old sophomore from Waldorf, was killed in the shooting. His teammate, 21-year-old junior Ellis Hartridge Jr. of Washington, D.C., was also shot but is expected to survive.

Coaches and acquaintances described both victims as outgoing, popular students who had their lives on the right track.

"It's a freak thing," said incoming student government president Ian Spears, a junior from Prince George's County. "What's supposed to happen at Frostburg is a bear wandering on campus, not a student being murdered in cold blood. I finally understand why people always get on the news and say, ‘I didn't think it could happen in my town.'"

Fellow basketball players spent much of Sunday with the recovering Hartridge and are helping each other through an emotionally trying time, said coach Webb Hatch.

"The range of emotions is varied," Hatch said. "You're talking about men ranging from age 19 to 22, most of whom have not experienced the loss of a peer. … A couple of the kids are really struggling, but I've got a pretty good feeling that they're all very much in touch. They have a tendency to look out for each other."

Frostburg President James Gibralter said the campus of 5,385 was "saddened" by the shooting.

"I wish to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brandon Carroll," he said. "The entire university community is behind them and we will feel the impact of his loss for a very long time. I am relieved to hear that Ellis Hartridge will recover, and send our best wishes to his family and friends as well."

The university's student government has planned a candlelight march at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday with a vigil service that begins at 9 p.m. The university has also made counselors available to speak to students.

"The mood of the campus is really still shock," Spears said. "This doesn't happen at Frostburg."

Spears said students used text and Facebook messages to organize an impromptu moment of silence in front of the campus cafeteria Sunday. Hundreds showed up, many still in tears as they processed news that was but a few hours old.

Spears had seen Carroll on Saturday and exchanged friendly words about a recent concert. He said Carroll, who went by the nickname BC, was approachable and popular. "He played basketball, but he wasn't cocky about it," he said. "He was real humble. He was a guy who was legitimately doing what he was supposed to do with his life, and he was gunned down for no reason."

Many students posted short messages about Carroll on their Facebook pages, offering prayers and saying they believed he would watch over them from heaven. His teammate, Brian Anderson, wrote of Carroll, "#1 on the court. #1 in our hearts. We all love you."

Hatch said Carroll transferred into the basketball program this year and never sulked as he rode the bench for most of the season. "I don't know that he had any enemies," the coach said. "He wouldn't hurt a flea."

Hatch had just met with the 6-foot-4 Carroll, a strong student, to discuss their mutually high expectations for his junior season. "His teammates are devastated," he said. "He was well-liked and they had a sense that by next year, he was going to be a real factor on the court."

Hartridge also transferred to Frostburg and came into the season as an unknown entity, Hatch said. "By midseason, he was starting, because he simply outworked everyone," the coach said.

Hatch had just come from visiting Hartridge in the hospital on Monday afternoon and said the player was alert and "seems to be fine."

Hall, the alleged shooter, was also an athlete, a former soccer star at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore who was recruited to play in college, though he was not on the roster at Frostburg.

One former coach described him as an exceptional, gifted athlete. "He had a lot of talent as a player," said Steve Campbell, co-director of coaching for Freestate Soccer Alliance, based in Bowie. Campbell coached Hall for two years but had not spoken to him since the summer after his freshman year in college.

Campbell said that Hall struggled academically, starting at Limestone College in South Carolina and moving to Radford College in Virginia before landing at Frostburg. Hall also tried to play soccer in Brazil, the coach said.

He and others who knew Hall were saddened by the news. "He was a fun kid. I'm not sure what happened or how things changed," Campbell said.

Hall's high school coach, Mike St. Martin, offered similar thoughts, saying, "He was a nice kid — I never had any issues with him. … I don't know any details of what went down, but it's a tragedy."

St. Martin said he kept in touch with Hall. Last summer, "he told me about how things didn't work out with going to play overseas and that he couldn't play [at Frostburg], but he was still going back to school to get his education," the coach said. "I commended him for doing that."

Several residents of Hall's Parke West neighborhood, an upper-middle-class community with detached houses off Quarterfield Road, said the former soccer star took time to teach the game to some of the area kids. No one answered the door at Hall's two-story home, which remained dark well into the evening Monday. A next-door neighbor said the home had been empty for several days.

"We didn't really know him all that well," said Greg Viola, who lives on the same block as Hall. "But he taught our son how to dribble a soccer ball a little. He seemed like a nice kid."

Police said Carroll and Hartridge were part of a group that went to Hall's home to confront him about 4 a.m. Sunday after he allegedly assaulted a woman at a party earlier in the evening. Hall is accused of firing two rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun, striking the two students in the abdomen.

Hall remained in his home after the shooting until police arrived.

Baltimore Sun reporters Liz F. Kay, Glenn Graham and Brent Jones and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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