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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) – Florida State University police fatally shot a gunman at the campus library early Thursday in a shooting that left three students wounded as hundreds of others inside the library fled or took cover in panic.
Officers confronted the gunman and ordered him to drop his weapon, but he fired one shot at them and they unleashed a volley of shots, Tallahassee Police spokesman Dave Northway said.
While police did not say if the wounded were shot by the gunman, senior Sarah Evans from Miami said she was inside the library and heard a male student say he had been shot. When she looked at him, he was on the ground with blood spreading on his pants leg.
Northway said authorities did not believe there were any other threats related to the incident. Shortly after 4 a.m., a loud tone sounded across the campus followed by an announcement that the campus was "all clear."
At the same time, authorities allowed hundreds of students who had been shepherded into a classroom building next to Strozier Library, a multistory building in the center of the Tallahassee campus, to return to their homes.
Hours after the shooting, detectives could be seen inspecting the body of the suspected gunman, which was lying face-down at the top of an access ramp just outside the library. A gray baseball cap lay near his head.
Students who had been in the library described a chaotic scene where they heard shots, followed by students either barricading themselves in parts of the library or taking cover.
John Ehab, a sophomore from Tampa, said he was on the library's third floor when he heard multiple gunshots.
"Everyone heard them," he said. People took cover in the book aisles to hide from the gunman in case he came onto the floor, Ehab said.
"You never think something like this is going to happen to you until you have to react in that situation when someone is screaming there is a gun in the building. I ran for my life," said Allison Kope, a freshman. "I ran right out the back door. My laptop and everything is still in there. It was shock. It was just instinct. You don't think about anything else, you just go."
Freshman Nikolai Hernandez said he was in his dorm room across from the library when he heard five or six rapid gunshots.
"It was a consecutive bop, bop, bop, bop, bop," Hernandez said. "I was supposed to be in the library. I had a paper to do and I got a little bit lazy and decided not to do it."
Florida State President John Thrasher decided to cancel classes Thursday for the entire campus, although the university itself would remain open.