A small group of Northern Illinois University students joined hands in prayer Friday near the lecture hall closed off with yellow crime scene tape after a gunman opened fire less than 24 hours ago.

The students came to campus to pray for the six victims who died, the injured students fighting for their lives and those who lost loved ones.

Shannon Simmons, a communications junior, saw students running from the classroom.

"It was chaos," Simmons said.

Officials brought an injured female student into her locked down building.

"They told us to watch where we were stepping because there was blood everywhere," Simmons said.

Another student in the prayer circle said she couldn't believe such a tragedy could happen at her campus.

"We see it on TV at all these other schools going on — not at my school," said Jennifer Jameau, an elementary education junior.

Jameau finds comfort in her faith.

"In the midst of all of this, God is in control," Jameau said. "We don't always understand why things happen the way they do."

The shooting drew questions about the university's response to a previous threat in December when an anonymous posting was found in a dormitory bathroom. The posting contained a racial slur and mentioned the April Virginia Tech University shootings.

University officials believe Thursday's shooting is not connected.

Jay Harris, a corporate communications senior and member of a Christian fraternity, who was under lockdown in his classroom after the shooting, said other precautions could have prevented the incident.

"We can always look back on situations and say 'we could have done better,'" Harris said. "It's just a very unfortunate situation."

But Marlin Tenbor, who received his Masters degree from NIU, said there's no way to control such tragedies from happening.

"It happens in the world today," Tenbor said, who came to campus to hear firsthand what university officials had to say at a Friday morning press conference.

"I just hope the students can overcome the emotional problems," Tenbor said.