Classes at Bowie State University are canceled for Monday after two people were shot late Saturday night at the end of a week of homecoming festivities.
Maryland State Police said Sunday morning they responded to an incident just after 11:30 p.m. and found two male victims, both 19, with non-life-threatening injuries in front of the school’s Center for Business and Graduate Studies.
At a news conference Sunday, Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Roland Butler Jr. said the teenagers are not being publicly identified but noted they were not students at either Bowie or Morgan State University, where a shooting occurred Tuesday during homecoming celebrations. He said state police were already stationed on Bowie’s campus to assist the university and local police with homecoming security.
Butler emphasized that there are no further threats to the campus or the public at this time and called the incident an “isolated” one.
Maj. Kenny Brown, assistant bureau chief of the state’s Criminal Investigations Bureau, said the Bowie shooting did not appear to be related to the one at Morgan State.
Brown said the police do not know what led to the Saturday night incident, but preliminarily they think there was more than one shooter. One weapon has so far been recovered, but he declined to specify the make or model. He called the investigation “ongoing and active.”
Brown asked for the public and students who may have information to use the police department tip line (301-860-4688). “We understand some students have social media video” of the incident, he said. Investigators will also be on campus to interview witnesses and neighbors, and pursue “any and all leads,” Brown added.
“This is not normal for Bowie State University,” college President Aminta H. Breaux told press at the conference. She said there were many efforts put forward by state and local law enforcement to make it possible to stage homecoming.
“We are deeply concerned in light of these events” that occurred at the conclusion of a “joyous, weeklong celebration,” Breaux said.
Counseling services will be provided 24/7 to students, she added. She said she is listening to students to figure out how to help them heal.
Homecoming, a proud tradition especially among historically Black colleges and universities, typically draws massive crowds back to campus for days of celebratory events and alumni donation drives. It is also known to bring in community members who live nearby but don’t have affiliations with the campuses.
Walking near the site of the shooting Sunday afternoon, one Bowie State freshman and her friend from Towson University recounted how quickly their evening of fun and frolic turned into trauma.
At an on-campus party, the two freshmen, both from Prince George‘s County and alumni of Oxon Hill High School, said they were among hundreds of people when a disc jockey called out to the crowd.
“Chill, chill, chill!” he yelled.
That’s when the two friends noticed people running, so they ran, too. “We definitely stepped on people,” the Bowie State student said.
When they got closer to the Bowie State student’s dorm, they had to pass police presence at the Center for Business and Graduate Studies and saw someone on the ground.
The Bowie State student, who declined to give her name so she could speak freely about the situation, said she was still recovering from another scary situation a few days earlier when students were advised of a manhunt underway for a suspect connected to the killing of a young woman in Baltimore and the brutal rape and assault of two other victims. The suspect, Jason Dean Billingsley, was apprehended at the Bowie train station near the campus.
A business administration major with an accounting focus, the Bowie student said she and her friend were wary of going to homecoming after the gunfire broke out at fellow HBCU Morgan State. That shooting injured five on Tuesday and led to the postponement of Morgan’s homecoming football game and cancellation of additional celebrations and classes for the rest of the week. The suspects in that case remain unidentified, and investigators are asking the public for help, according to authorities. A $9,000 reward is being offered for information leading to arrests.
The Bowie and Towson students said they knew people from Morgan, as well as from other nearby schools, would be in attendance.
“We were like, please don’t bring your drama here,” she said about the influx of students expected to come to the campus. “Now it’s like, ‘Why are we getting shot up, too?’”
For one junior student, who also asked not to be identified, the incident solidified her decision not to attend homecoming events this week, which she made after she heard about what happened at Morgan State.
“It’s scary to come on campus,” the child and adolescent studies major said Sunday. “I didn’t expect it to get this bad.”
Another Bowie State student, Aisha, who declined to give her last name out of concern for her and her family’s privacy, said she was off campus when the incident occurred and unexpectedly had to spend the night away from her dorm when the lockdown went into effect overnight.
She came to Bowie State from California to “try something new,” the first-year student said, but never expected to experience something as harrowing as this.
”I have to be precautious anyway because I’m a woman — now I’ll have to be triple precautious,” she said.
In a message posted Sunday to X, formerly Twitter, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat from Baltimore, blamed the shooting on an overproliferation of guns.
The guns, he said, and inability to deescalate conflict, “[yield] disputes that turn life or death in an instant,” he said. The conflicts add weight to the theory that more guns make people less safe, he added.
Mayor Brandon Scott also emphasized on X on Sunday the necessity for “national action” in response to gun violence. Without that, “we’re doomed to continue repeating the cycle,” he said.