Coroner expected to release more information on two killed in US - - Columbia, South Carolina

Coroner expected to release more information on two killed in USC murder-suicide


Richland County Coroner Gary Watts says he will release more information on the two people killed during Thursday afternoon's murder-suicide at the University of South Carolina. 

The bodies of two people were found inside the New School of Public Health building on Assembly Street near College Street. SLED says the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident.

Watts says he will reveal the more information around 11 a.m.

University professor Harris Pastides revealed the name of the professor as Dr. Raja Fayad, an associate professor with the University of South Carolina in the Department of Exercise Science in the School of Public Health.

Police from several agencies were called to respond to a report of a shooting just after 1 p.m. Thursday. A campus-wide alert was sent to students around 1:15 p.m. through CarolinaAlert. The alert said shots were fired at the New School of Public Health.

"I got the first alert at 1:17 p.m., and it said, 'Active shooter, seek shelter, and obey officials, check more info on the Carolina Alert website,' student Will Ouerstreet said. "The next one was at 1:30, it said, 'Shots fired at the Public Health Center, seek shelter, remain indoors and obey officials.' We asked the professor if we could lock the doors and she said yes."

Students, staff and faculty were warned to seek shelter immediately. Police blocked off the streets in the area of College, Assembly and Park streets and people were warned to stay away from the area. The SWAT team was called to the scene.

About an hour later, the CarolinaAlert system sent out another message saying the threat was over. 

SLED spokesman Thom Berry says there was no threat of an active shooter.

"From every indication that we have seen so far, it appears to be a very isolated incident," Berry said. "It does have the appearance of being a murder-suicide. However, we do have a very active and ongoing investigation into this event."

Police have closed the Arnold School of Public Health while investigators gather evidence. 

The shooting occurred in a building that's at a busy intersection of downtown Columbia, not far from the State House and other major businesses.

A university official says classes will be held as scheduled Thursday except for those in the building where the shooting occurred. 

University president Harris Pastides released a statement Thursday night praising the first responders and investigators currently working the case. 

"The University of South Carolina Police Department responded to the shots immediately and, within moments, our community was alerted," Pastides wrote. "I want to thank USCPD for their professionalism and quick response. The building was quickly secured and we were able to give an all clear for the campus. Indeed this is a tragic day in our history."

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