Five shot at party in Campus Village

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A celebration of SVSU’s Axe Bowl win Saturday night turned to chaos about 2 a.m. Sunday morning as 16 shots were fired during an enormous party at the Campus Village at Cardinal Center apartment complex across the street from SVSU’s campus, police say.

Five people were shot, none of whom were SVSU students, and the suspect was still at large as of Sunday afternoon, said Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel. All five people shot were treated and released from the hospital.

While Campus Village is not affiliated with SVSU, many people who live there attend SVSU, and many of the estimated 1,000 people at the party Saturday night were SVSU students.

“One of my deputies was working in the southeast side of the complex, (and) this particular incident happened on the west side of the complex,” Federspiel said. “He heard gunshots and drove over there and found several of the victims, and as we investigated further, we found that five people had been shot.”

Approximately half of the 16 shell casings were found in the middle of the backyards of two apartment buildings, near where a DJ booth for the party was set up. The other half were found on the sidewalk on the west edge of Campus Village near the party area.

The suspect is a black male in his early 20s with dreadlocks with blonde or orange frosted tips, Federspiel said.

“As it stands, we still don’t know who the shooter is, and that’s disturbing,” Federspiel said Sunday afternoon. “We are using every available resource to try and get the information. If people are afraid to call 911 or afraid to call the sheriff’s office, they can always call Crime Stoppers at 800-422-JAIL and can leave the information anonymously and maybe can get a reward.”

On Sunday, police believe the five people hit were the shooters intended targets. Police also are investigating the possibility that the shooting was gang related.

“Whether it was gang activity or something that runs parallel with it, there was a witness that told us they heard the shooter earlier before the shots were fired sounding angry about certain individuals that were there,” Federspiel said.

University Police will continue to work closely with the sheriff’s department, university spokesman J.J. Boehm said.

“While this incident happened off campus and we are thankful that no SVSU students were injured, we are actively working to support our students and parents, as well as faculty and staff,” Boehm said. “As of 11 a.m. [Sunday], we had taken more than 100 phone calls from concerned parents and others who called the hotline we put in place. We will continue to update our campus community and the public, should new developments arise.”

The night began as a large party following SVSU’s 20-14 win over Northwood in the Axe Bowl football game, but that changed when the first shot went off.

“I was standing outside and I heard the first gunshot go off, and I looked and everyone just kind of froze,” said Jessica Sharvnoch, a third-year student at SVSU. “No one knew what to do, and then everyone just started taking off. I saw a guy just fall down, so I ran over just to help. There was a whole group of us, and everyone was trying to help.”

Trenton Wellsted, a third-year student at Mott Community College who was at SVSU visiting friends, shared a similar experience.

“Over the music I heard something that sounded like a firecracker,” he said. “I looked out the window, and I could see people ducking or people sprinting with scared looks on their face. I opened the door to the apartment to let people in. One of my buddies grabbed a guy from the ground and he hopped into our apartment. He had a bullet wound in his foot and two in his shoulder. He didn’t even know he got shot in the shoulder, and when the cops pulled up, we got him right to the cops.”

Originally it was reported that two shooters were seen, but that number was later lowered to a single shooter.

“In the mayhem of having officers from multiple agencies arriving, someone put out there that there was a second shooter,” Federspiel said. “I talked to my detective sergeant who interviewed most of the witnesses this morning, and he said that what he had been seeing and hearing, there was only one shooter.”

SVSU officials initially placed the entire campus on lockdown, but that was lifted several hours later.

Along with finding the shooter, the sheriff’s department also will plan ways to keep the residents of Campus Village safe, Federspiel said.

“I will be meeting with the ownership group of the property, and I’ll be meeting again with the president and vice president, and I’m going to try and come up with a plan that’s going to better protect the individuals who live there, whether they be students or not,” Federspiel said. “I’m going to put a concerted effort forth to come up with a solution, and of course I’m open to suggestions.”