HOUSTON (Reuters) - A male student went on a stabbing spree at a community college in northwest Houston on Tuesday, injuring at least 14 people, two of them critically, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. The campus was sealed off.
Garcia said at a press conference that an emergency call came in at 11:12 a.m. local time: “Male on the loose stabbing people.”
A 21-year-old male, a student at Lone Star College near Houston, was detained. Police did not release his name. Garcia declined to say what type of weapon the man used, although the injuries were mostly lacerations.
The campus, part of a Houston-area community college network, was on lockdown and being methodically searched by police.
“This is a sprawling campus,” Harris County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Alan Bernstein said on CNN. “It will take a long time to get through all these buildings, to interview everybody.”
The suspect is believed to have acted alone, Garcia said. Earlier in the day, police had said they were searching for a possible second suspect.
Of the 14 injured, two were in critical condition, four in fair condition and eight others had minor injuries, Garcia said.
Garcia said that students and faculty quickly responded to subdue the suspect.
Michael Chalfan, a student at the college, said that shortly after he arrived on campus on Tuesday, he saw police tasering the suspect, a student he recognized as a classmate in a drama class about a year ago.
Chalfan described the suspect as an eccentric student who carried a stuffed pet monkey around campus and regularly wore workout gloves.
“He dresses weird,” Chalfan told reporters.
The campus closed on Tuesday but would operate normally on Wednesday, said Rand Key, chief operating officer of the college system.
In January, at another campus of Lone Star College in the Houston area, three people were shot.
The Lone Star College System has six colleges and several smaller centers in the Houston area, with a total of about 90,000 students. About 20,000 students attend the CyFair campus in northwestern Harris County, where Tuesday’s incident took place. The CyFair campus and the North Harris campus, the site of the January shooting, are the two largest campuses in the system.
The Tuesday incident was the latest of several attacks at schools across the country in the last year.
The most serious of those, a shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, left 26 people dead including 20 elementary school children.
In Taft, California, in January, a student armed with a shotgun opened fire at a high school, critically wounding a fellow student before two adult staff members talked the boy into giving up his weapon, and he was arrested.
The attacks have prompted calls for tighter security at the nation’s schools and a drive for tighter gun control laws.
Additional reporting By Andrea Lorenz; Writing by Brendan O'Brien and Corrie MacLaggan; editing by Andrew Hay, Gunna Dickson, Greg McCune and Bernard Orr