Lufkin UT students recall tense moments following campus shooting, lockdown

Zach Roche, UT Freshman, Lufkin
Zach Roche, UT Freshman, Lufkin
Zach Roche, UT Freshman, Lufkin, recalls tense moments
Zach Roche, UT Freshman, Lufkin, recalls tense moments
Stephen Alston, UT Sophomore, Lufkin, via Skype
Stephen Alston, UT Sophomore, Lufkin, via Skype

By Holley Nees - bio | email

AUSTIN, TX (East Texas note) – A gunman fires multiple rounds before killing himself at the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Many East Texas students were there, including several Lufkin High School graduates staying in dorms just feet from where the shooting took place.

Police have identified the gunman as Colton Tooley, a 19-year old student from Austin.  College records indicate Tooley was a sophomore math major.  No other injuries were reported and police believe Tooley acted alone.

Campus alarms sounded cautioning everyone to stay indoors until the all-clear sounded.

"Whenever the shots were fired, I was already in my 8:00 lecture, which is in Welch, it's a couple blocks away," Stephen Alston, UT sophomore, said.

"I woke up to sirens and my roommate alerts me and says there's a shooting.  We're thinking 'Oh my gosh, there's actually a shooter that's right across from my dorm'," Zach Roche, UT Freshman, said.

Police believe Tooley fired an automatic weapon on the sixth floor of the Perry-Castaneda Library, then shot himself dead.

"The weird thing is I had a class at 8:30 which is close to the time the shooting was and I would've had to walk by the library where it happened, so, I decided to sleep in.  I think I made the right choice on that part," Roche said.

The UT campus was on lock down for hours while officers made sure no other suspects were on the loose. "Everybody was kind of in a hectic mood, just staying inside because there were also officers in our dorms with pretty big guns just controlling and roaming around the halls, making sure everyone was in our dorms, locked," Roche said.

Classes were later canceled for the day.  Four hours after the initial gunshots rang out, the 'all-clear' was given.  "They're kind of discouraging you to leave, you can, they've sounded the all-clear, but most people kind of as a precaution are staying in," Alston said.  "It's kind of eerie because there's no one around except for the police officers and the SWAT, National Guard probably, but now it's just calm."

Both Roche and Alston said it was a scary experience and they're thankful to be safe.  "It's okay, I'm fine, most everybody else I know from Lufkin is fine as well, there's nothing really to worry about and I think it'll all go back to normal by tomorrow and so it's under control.  I guess to my mom and dad, I love them," Roche said.

In addition to the advisories by intercom, students also received text messages and emails from the university notifying them of the Tuesday morning incident.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.