FSU ‘Coming Back Together’ After Library Shooting

By  //  November 22, 2014

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shooter Myron May was "in crisis"

ABOVE VIDEO: This video was taken by an unidentified Florida State University student inside the school’s Strozier Library during a shooting in the early morning hours of Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – The trustees of Florida State University on Friday stood to applaud the campus police chief and prayed for two victims — one critically injured — as the school tries to recover from a shooting incident early Thursday that left three people wounded and the gunman dead.

Sen.  John Thrasher
Sen. John Thrasher

FSU President John Thrasher told the university’s board of trustees that students were back in class and that Strozier Library, where the tragedy occurred, had re-opened Friday morning.

“The campus in my opinion is coming back together,” said Thrasher, who has been in his job less than two weeks.

“We all hurt for the folks that are in the hospital, and we are trying to be diligent in our efforts to help them and support them, without being intrusive into the privacy that they expect.”

The board led a standing ovation for university Police Chief David Perry, whose officers arrived on the scene of the shooting in less than five minutes. Officers exchanged more than 30 rounds with the gunman, FSU graduate Myron May, who died outside the library after failing to penetrate its security.

David Perry
David Perry

“I tell thousands of parents and students at orientation that we are the ones that run toward the danger when everyone else is running the opposite direction,” said Perry, who hadn’t slept in 52 hours.

“So when I got that first call, I was just as emotional as everyone else, but I knew that we had a job to do, and I knew that we were going to rely on our training to get the job done.”

University and Tallahassee police officers rushed to the library after May, a 31-year-old attorney, showed up with a semi-automatic handgun. He shot one student in the lobby and then went outside, where he shot a university employee and another student.

Tallahassee police late Friday afternoon released the names of the three victims. Police said one of the victims, Farhan Ahmed, 21, was being treated at a local hospital and that his family had asked for privacy. University employee Nathan Scott, 30, was shot in the leg and was being treated at a hospital. The third victim, Elijah Velez, 18, suffered what police called a “grazing” wound and was treated and released.

The trustees saw a video of a Thursday night vigil on Landis Green, where students lifted candles and sang “Amazing Grace.”

During the trustees meeting, Chairman Allan Bense also led a silent prayer for the victims and their families, with whom he’d been spending time.

Thrasher, whose selection as president had drawn protests from some students and faculty members, said the university had come together.

Allan Bense
Allan Bense

“Normalcy is a funny word, and I don’t know that we’ll get back to it or ever forget,” he said.

“But at least I think from a standpoint of some of the things that went on yesterday, I think our campus is alive and well and working toward the goals of being a great university.”

On Friday morning, Thrasher and FSU Provost Garnett Stokes — along with law enforcement — welcomed students at the library doors.

With them was Dean of University Libraries Julia Zimmerman, whose security measures kept May from getting past the lobby of Strozier, where 450 students were studying at the time.

“We’re ready to get back to work,” Zimmerman said. “This is a busy time for the library, as exams are coming up. Our building is going to be packed to the gills for the next two to three weeks with students, and we are ready to work with them.”

About 100 students lined up at the library doors, saying they, too, were ready to pick up where they’d left off — more or less.

“It shocked a lot of people and it rocked a lot of people, but we’ll get back to normal pretty soon,” said Joe Pelt, a freshman biology major from Tallahassee.

“It’s going to be in the back of our minds going in and out of Strozier and being around campus for a while, but we’ll bounce back. It’s what we do.”

Also Friday, the FBI intercepted a package May had sent to a friend in Texas. Other packages to other friends are expected. On Thursday, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo described May as having been “in crisis,” and the investigation into his actions is continuing.