Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum met with residents of Evans Hall Sunday afternoon to talk about the Saturday night shooting incident that claimed the life of one MSU student. Keenum wanted to reassure the students that safety is the university’s first and foremost priority. Before taking questions, he emphasized that, “by pulling together as an entire Bulldog family, the university will get through this difficult time.” Along with Keenum, senior housing and student affairs administrators were on hand to answer questions and inform residents about resources and counseling services available. Photo by: Courtesy photo
March 26, 2012 12:59:20 PM
UPDATE 3/27/12: A third arrest has been made.
PREVIOUSLY: STARKVILLE --Authorities need the public's help in locating a third suspect in the fatal shooting death of a Mississippi State University student.
MSU Police are seeking Trent Deundra Crump, 21, of Flowood on a warrant for capital murder, said MSU Police Chief Georgia Lindley.
"Crump is traveling in a light blue 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis, with Rankin County tags," she noted, warning Crump is considered to be armed and dangerous and may be accompanied by a black female.
Anyone with information on Crump's whereabouts is urged to contact MSU police at 662-325-2121.
Already, two men have been arrested and charged with capital murder in the case.
Dontae Harvey surrendered to U.S. marshals at 7:30 p.m. Monday at a residence in Jackson. Supervisory Inspector Rick Griffin said marshals developed information on his whereabouts and gained cooperation from his family. Harvey was being held at the Raymond detention center, awaiting transport to Starkville, Griffin said.
Mason Perry Jones, 21, of Jackson was arrested Sunday and charged Monday with capital murder in the case.
The possible motive in the killing "will come once the investigation is complete," said Bill Kibler, MSU's vice president of student affairs. "Police do have some clues, but nothing that is releasable information."
MSU spokeswoman Maridith Geuder said the sale of a controlled substance is the underlying charge in the capital murder charge, but did not elaborate further. She said Jones, who was not an MSU student, has requested an attorney.
"The U.S. Marshal's Service was one of many agencies that have volunteered to help us in the investigation,'' Lindley said. "They came in (Sunday) afternoon and began working the case. We are very grateful for all of the assistance. Obviously, this is a very important matter to us.''
Witnesses reported three black males were involved in the shooting and left the scene in a late-model blue Crown Victoria.
Sanderson, who had transferred from Holmes Community College and was in his first semester at MSU, was shot multiple times outside a dorm room on the first floor of Evans Hall.
Sanderson, who lived in Rice Hall, probably was "visiting" Evans Hall the night of the shooting, said Kibler.
Evans Hall, one of the older dormitories on campus, is arranged as a quadrangle. The first floor, where the incident occurred, opens into a courtyard. The three higher floors have balconies overlooking the courtyard. Evans Hall, which holds about 300 male students, has two main entrances -- the north entrance accesses the first floor and the south entrance accesses the second floor, which features a game room and office, along with residents' rooms.
Kibler said the shooting took place outside one of the first floor dorm rooms and 24 students subsequently were relocated from their first-floor rooms to preserve the integrity of the crime scene.
"This is the first time in our school's history that such a tragic event has occurred involving a student being shot on campus,'' MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said Sunday. "Our campus is known as a safe place, and I want to assure students, parents, faculty and staff that it continues to be safe.''
Entry to dormitory rooms is gained through three levels requiring key-card access -- at exterior entrances, entrances to wings or floors and at residents' rooms.
However, the key-card access system was not activated at the time of the shooting, which occurred before 10 p.m. And, Kibler noted, non-residents can be brought into the dorm by residents, at any hour.
A deadly shooting spree on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007 - when almost two hours passed before students/staff/faculty were notified that a shooting had taken place - led to changes on campuses across the country to get the word out more quickly.
Ben Grace, an MSU freshman who lives in Evans Hall, Sunday said he received a torrent of text messages after the incident.
"I was getting all these texts and I'm thinking, "Why is everyone texting me?'' Then I got a call from a friend and he told me what happened. I just grabbed my laptop and went over to stay with a friend at South Hall.''
Another Evans Hall resident, Phillip Barojas, said he walked into the North Entrance at about 10 p.m. Saturday.
"There were a lot of people standing around and I was wondering what was going on,'' he recalled. "Somebody was saying somebody got stabbed. Somebody else said he was shot, but nobody said they heard any gunshots.''
Barojas said he looked over the balcony and could see the victim, who was being attended to by "a couple of people'' just outside one of the rooms while police were clearing the courtyard.
A 1997 law passed in the wake of a Pearl High School shooting makes a homicide on educational property a capital crime.
Dispatch contributor Slim Smith contributed much of this report.
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
1. Murder suspect's bond set at $1 million COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. 4-year-old shooting victim laid to rest COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Open Meetings Act violation claim expected against Starkville STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
4. Saturday night fire destroys Columbus home COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY