By Juan A Lozano and Michael Graczyk
A fight between two people led to a shooting at a Texas community college, where a maintenance man was caught in the crossfire and wounded, officials said.
One of the people involved in the fight was a student, and both people were wounded and hospitalised, Harris County Sheriff's Maj Armando Tello said. A fourth person, a woman with a student ID, also was taken to a hospital for a medical condition, he said.
The shooting that happened before 1pm sent students scurrying for safety on the Lone Star College System campus about 20 miles north of downtown Houston. Some barricaded themselves in the rooms they were in, while others fled to nearby buildings.
Mark Zaragosa said he had just come out of an EMT class when he saw two people who were injured and stopped to help them. Officers had not yet arrived, he said.
"The two people that I took care of had just minor injuries," Zaragosa told KHOU TV. "One gentleman had a gunshot to the knee and the (other) actually had an entry wound to the lower buttocks area."
Richard Carpenter, chancellor of the Lone Star College System, said the shooting happened outside between an academic building and the library.
It came one month after a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and heightening security concerns at campuses across the country. In Texas, several school districts have either implemented or are considering a plan to allow faculty to carry guns on campus. Guns are not allowed on college campuses, but the Texas Legislature this year may debate a bill that would allow them.
At least 10 police cars clustered on the campus' west side as emergency personnel tended to the wounded and loaded them on stretchers. Students led by officers ran from the buildings where they had been hiding as police evacuated the campus.
Keisha Cohn, 27, who also is studying to be a paramedic, said she was inside a building about 50 feet away from where the shots were fired. She heard "no less than five" shots and started running.
She fled to the campus learning centre, which houses computers and study areas. Eventually, a deputy showed up and escorted people out, she said. Like many students, she ended up leaving her car on the campus, which was closed for the day.
Daniel Flores, 19, was in a second-floor tutoring lab with about 60 people when he heard a noise that sounded "like someone was kicking a door."
Once he and others realised the sound was gunfire, they fled to the nearby student services centre, where authorities kept them for about 30 minutes before letting them go.
Cody Harris, 20, said he was in a classroom with about six or seven other students waiting for a psychology class to start when he heard eight shots. He and other students looked at each other, said "I guess we should get out of here," and fled.
"I was just worried about getting out," Harris said. "I called my grandmother and asked her to pick me up."