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Indiana's Purdue University shooting leaves one dead, man in custody

By Carey Gillam

(Reuters) - A man was shot to death at Indiana's Purdue University on Tuesday and a male suspect was taken into custody, police said, in an apparently targeted killing that follows a rash of shootings at U.S. schools this month.

Cody Cousins, 23, fatally shot Andrew Boldt, 21, a teacher's assistant, at about noon in a basement classroom of the university's electrical engineering building, according to Purdue University Police Chief John Cox.

The shooter seemed to have had only the victim as his intended target, leaving the building immediately after the shooting, Cox said.

"It's just a tragic situation," Cox said, adding that the shooter was taken into custody without a struggle shortly after he exited the engineering building.

Cousins is being held at Tippacanoe County jail, said Cox, who did not disclose a motivative for the shooting during an afternoon press conference.

University officials said the campus was considered safe, though the electrical engineering building remained closed. A candlelight vigil is planned for Tuesday night on campus, and classes will be suspended Wednesday, officials said. Students are being offered counseling, officials said.

Upon hearing of the shooting, campus officials immediately ordered issued text alerts to students, faculty and staff across campus, instructing them to take shelter as police searched the area.

"We have drills and we always try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," university spokeswoman Liz Evans said. "This is definitely a tragic day for our campus."

Indiana Governor Mike Pence called the shooting a "tragedy."

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victim and to everyone in the Purdue community," Pence said in a statement, pledging state law enforcement assistance in the investigation.

Julia Chester, an associate professor of psychological studies at Purdue who is also an organizer for a gun control lobbying group, said she was in her office on campus when she received the university alert.

"No matter how many drills you've been through, panic takes its toll on logic," she said in a statement. "The shooting ... is still being investigated, but regardless of the outcome, there is one thing we all already know: we owe our children and ourselves a world where we don't have to live by lockdown."

The frequency of shootings at schools and universities in the United States is fueling the national debate over gun control. On Monday night, a student was shot and critically wounded outside an athletic center at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.

Last week alone, two students were shot at a high school in Philadelphia, another was shot at a high school in Albany, Georgia, and two students were shot at a middle school in New Mexico.

Gun ownership laws in the United States have come under intense scrutiny since December 2012, when 20 young children and six educators were shot dead by a long gunman at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Chris Francescani and Marina Lopes in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and David Bailey in Minneapolis; editing by Scott Malone, Gary Crosse and Richard Chang)

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