CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - A statewide manhunt was under way on Wednesday for a gunman who fatally shot a South Carolina university student outside a dormitory and then fled the campus in a car, police said.
No motive has been revealed for the attack, which occurred Tuesday night at an apartment-style residence that houses almost 2,000 students about 2 miles from the main campus of Coastal Carolina University, near Myrtle Beach.
Sophomore Anthony Liddell, 19, of Bennettsville, South Carolina, died after the shooting in a parking lot outside the residence hall, university officials said. He was an exercise and sports science major, university spokesman Doug Bell said on Wednesday.
Police were searching for the suspect and hoped to release a description on Wednesday, said South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry, who declined to comment further.
A fellow student who was a close friend of Liddell’s said she did not know anyone who would want to harm him.
“He was very nice and sweet and was friendly to everybody, which is why people are so shocked and surprised by this. He never argued with anybody. I’ve never seen him angry,” said Alexe Herbert, 19.
The university police chief deemed the campus safe to hold classes as scheduled after a Tuesday night lockdown, university officials said.
“We will continue to do all that we can with all the resources necessary to make sure that our students are safe and secure,” said Coastal Carolina University President David DeCenzo. “We only pray that an event like this never happens on our campus or any college campus again.”
Liddell’s death comes amid a broad debate across a sharply divided nation over U.S. gun control laws.
In the wake of the fatal December shooting of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, federal and state legislators across the United States have begun debating new gun legislation.
While the Connecticut attack prompted some states, like New York, to tighten gun laws, other states including Wyoming and Alaska are considering legislation aimed at essentially nullifying broader federal gun laws within their state borders.
The U.S. Congress remains embroiled in a similarly heated debate.
Federal legislators are considering new legislation this week to expand requirements for gun buyer background checks and increase penalties for individuals who purchase guns for criminals.
Additional reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Maureen Bavdek and Martin Golan