By JULIETA PAITA
NORTHEAST – According to Major Armando Tello of the Harris County Sheriff’s department, at about 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22, 2013, an altercation developed between three young men on the campus of Lone Star College-North Harris.
As the disagreement escalated, one of the men allegedly drew a gun and fired at the other. First reports indicated that a maintenance man and the shooter also suffered wounds. In the melee that ensued, he may have shot himself as well as the other person, the maintenance man. However, as later evidence was developed, it turned out that there was a second person who fled the scene, and may have been the actual shooter. This person, Trey Foster, was arrested the next day in Plano, Texas near a family home.
An additional victim in the disturbance was a woman student, who was not involved in the fight or gunplay, but suffered a medical conditon, perhaps a heart attack.
Witnesses told media reporters that they heard six or seven gun shots. The activity occured in a courtyard between the library and an academic building, they said.
Authorities responded immediately to the shots, and EMS personnel who train at the college were on the scene in a few minutes, witnesses said, as well as Sheriff’s officers, Pct. 4 constables and Lone Star College police.
Because those involved were both wounded, the real danger was quickly contained. However, because officials did not know the complete circumstances that led to the shooting, they assumed there might be more danger. Therefore, they “locked down” the campus and eventually evacuated all students and personnel, as a Harris County SWAT team arrived and methodically searched each building.
Officials transported the two wounded men to Ben Taub hospital and were under armed guard by deputies; the custodian was also treated for a gunshot wound. And the woman with the heart condition was sent to the hospital for evaluation and treatment.
As the scene developed, and with the possibility of other shooters, nearby Aldine ISD schools were put into “lock-down,” the campuses were sealed to the public, and students were sequestered. This happened at Nimitz High School, Nimitz 9th grade school, Parker Intermediate, and Dunn Elementary. All of these schools are along W. W. Thorne Drive in the immediate proximity to the Lone Star campus.
By evening, the campus was quiet, and almost everyone had left. The public schools were released from lock-down in the middle of the afternoon, and most students were dismissed near their regular times.
The LSC campus remained closed for the rest of the day and classes resumed on Wednesday (January 23) morning at their regularly schedule time.
“The Sheriff’s Office and local education officials frequently meet, plan and train to deal with the threat of violence on or near schools – and throughout our sprawling county,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. “With the shootings at Newtown, Connecticut and elsewhere fresh on our minds, we remain vigilant about the aching need for students of any age to feel safe in their classrooms and other facilities.ÿ
“I’m grateful no one was killed in this local incident. I’m grateful Lone Star College will be able to re-open tomorrow [Wednesday, January 23]. I’m grateful for the response by our personnel and other emergency responders to this frightening act,” Sheriff Garcia added. “But gratefulness is no cause for complacency in the future.”
Help after the shooting
Counselors were on hand on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at LSC-North Harris to talk with students regarding the altercation the day before and forums were held on campus to discuss campus safety issues.
More than 250 attended the forums held for students, faculty and staff. Other discussion forums are being scheduled and times will be announced in the near future.ÿ
LSC-North Harris President Dr. Steve Head said that many students and employees also took advantage of the counselors available.
ÿ“Understandably some were a little on edge,” Dr. Head said. “But in the 40-year history of this college, this is the first-ever incident we’ve ever had.”
ÿThe campus was open for classes on Wednesday but some limited areas were not accessible due to the ongoing investigation by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.ÿ
LSCS Chancellor Dr. Richard Carpenter said the college system has been cooperating fully with the Sheriff’s Office investigation and reiterated campus safety.
ÿ“We’re constantly striving to identify new and better ways to make our campuses safer,” said Dr. Carpenter. “We will review every process that occurred as a result of this incident to make our campuses as safe as possible for our students, faculty and staff.”
Additional gunman charged
ÿSheriff’s Office and college officials reconfirmed that the shooting last Tuesday (Jan.22) was a result of an altercation betweenÿtwo men and was not an active shooter scenario.
ÿThe LSCS employee who was wounded as an innocent bystander, Billy Cliburn, a maintenance technician, was released from the hospital on Wednesday, January 23. Carlton Berry, 22, and the other shooting victim, Jody Neal, 25, were guarded by deputies and recovering at an area hospital from gunshot wounds.
ÿSheriff’s Office officials reported that one of the suspects, Carlton Berry, who also was shot has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, his bond has been set to $60,000. Berry was listed as an LSCS student.
Sheriff Adrian Garcia said that sheriff’s officers followed leads that pointed to a possible second suspect. Working with the Gulf Coast Task Force, they recovered the weapon used in the shooting and arrested Trey Foster in Plano, Texas.
According to court records and to KPRC local news, one of the students involved in the altercation, Jody Neal, “bumped into Trey Foster, 22, (the other student) and they got into an argument. They parted ways, but 30 minutes later Foster, who was with Carlton Berry saw Neal again and they got into another argument. Police said Berry told investigators that Foster then fired shots at Neal who suffered gunshot wounds to his abdomen and leg. Neal had been convicted of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 2004 and possesion of a switchblade/knuckles and misdemeanor assault in 2010.
Neal identified Foster as the shooter. Mr. Foster was arrested last Thursday (Jan. 24) early in the morning byÿmembers of the Gulf CoastÿViolent Offfenders and Fugitives Task Force in Plano, Texas. He is charged with aggravated assault with a deadlyÿweapon.ÿ
ÿDr. Carpenter praised the first responders who were part of the scene.
ÿ“The rapid response from the LSCS Police Department and many other local law enforcement agencies brought this situation under control quickly,” said Dr. Carpenter. “Our top priority remains the safety of all our students, faculty and staff, plus the surrounding community.”