Search Continues for ECC Gunman
By Eileen Buckley
Amherst, NY – It was a traumatic start to the new school year for students at Erie Community College North Campus Tuesday. A lone gunman fired shots inside the school's bookstore at the Student Center off Youngs Road.
ECC's North Campus bookstore in Williamsville became a crime scene. Amherst police swarmed the campus to search for an armed suspect with a sawed-off shot gun. He demanded cash from the bookstore then fired shots. It was packed with students as they returned for the first day of classes. Bullets hit the ceiling and cash register. But the suspect fled the campus without any cash.
ECC's executive vice president of student affairs Dan Penfold says the school is "very fortunate" that no one was shot.
"Everybody is a little shaken by this," Penfold said. "This is a very traumatic event for the whole college community. We have students, faculty and staff that are quite upset."
One person suffered minor injuries to their arm when they fell in a scramble. Penfold says it was a "rare" incident. But Wednesday, the school was expected to have armed security on campus.
"We do have security on our campus and in all our buildings. But how often do you hear of a campus bookstore being held up. We a lot of students that are trying to get their books on the first day of class," Penfold said. "Actually this is unheard of."
First year culinary student Tony Battaglia was attending class in the Student Center when the incident occurred.
"He ran right past our classroom with an open door," Battaglia said. "But we didn't even hear the gun shots and there were at least two shots, but we were in another wing."
Battaglia says initially they stayed inside the classroom, but a short time later were asked to evacuate the building. Students and faculty were offered counseling from Crisis Services.