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2 Hurt in Shooting at Univ. in Cleveland

May 10, 2003

CLEVELAND (AP) _ A gunman in camouflage opened fire Friday inside the Case Western Reserve University business school, wounding at least two people and sending students and faculty scrambling to get out. An unknown number of people were trapped in the building, too fearful to move.

Police sealed off the Peter B. Lewis Building. The man remained inside and shots were heard about 90 minutes after the shootings began at 4 p.m.

About four hours later, an unknown number of injured people were taken out of the building. Further details were not available.

Officers had appealed to the man to call a designated police phone number. By early evening, two dozen SWAT officers, holding shields and wearing helmets and bulletproof vests, moved inside.

``We’re very hopeful we can bring this to an end,″ city police Chief Edward Lohn said earlier.

``We’re all shaking and quite scared. One of the girls in our office is seven months pregnant _ we’re trying to keep her as calm as possible,″ Tracy Warner, 30, told The Associated Press from a third-floor office where she was hiding with several other people.

Bonnie Copes, an administrative assistant, said she heard several gunshots beginning around 4 p.m. Copes, 50, was locked in a department office inside the building and unable to leave. She continued to hear gunshots.

``Rounds and rounds and rounds,″ she said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

One person was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound, said school spokeswoman Marcie Hersh. The other wounded person remained inside the building.

Joyce Persaud, a spokeswoman at Huron Hospital, said a male was treated for a gunshot wound in the buttocks and was listed in good condition.

Witnesses said the gunman was firing indiscriminately with a machine gun. Police, moving reporters away from the building, said it was a high-powered rifle.

``He had a machine gun, book bag, camouflage shirt, military green hat, white pants and a book bag,″ LeKisha Spencer, 28, who works in a first-floor cafeteria. ``I didn’t see his face.

``He was just walking, aiming his guns and firing.″

Dick Bennett, director of development for the Weatherhead School of Management, was locked in a third-floor room with eight other faculty members. He said he believed there were 40 to 50 people in the building but few students because finals were completed last week.

Sachin Goel, 26, a master’s student from India, said he was talking with two friends on the first floor outside the cafeteria when the gunman approached and shot one of his friends.

``My friend said he would give me a ride home and then I heard him shouting. I heard gunshots,″ he said.

His friend screamed as he was shot. Goel and his other friend dove under a table and the gunman fired at them.

``But he couldn’t get us. And then he again shot at us and we turned the table and put it in front of us,″ Goel said.

Albert DiFranco, 26, an assistant alumni director, said he was returning to his first-floor office from the bathroom when he saw drops of blood and broken glass on the floor outside his door.

Then people shouted down from a second-floor mezzanine for him to get out.

``I ran out,″ he said. ``People were saying, ‘Go go go!’ I got down to the ground.″

DiFranco was searching the University Circle area for a co-worker. He wasn’t sure if she got out of the building.

William Day, a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, was passing by and saw the gunman enter the building.

``I saw this man with camouflage enter the door ... and I was like, that’s weird, and then all of a sudden people started running out of the building and they were telling me that he just went in there and started just spraying the place with bullets,″ he said.

The $62 million Peter B. Lewis Building opened in the fall and was designed by Frank Gehry, the internationally renowned architect who also created the titanium-covered Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Case Western is at University Circle, a park-like setting of cultural, medical and educational institutions on the eastern edge of downtown. There are 1,600 students in the business school and a total of 9,500 at Case.

Because of the shooting, the Cleveland Orchestra, which performs in nearby Severance Hall, postponed until Sunday its Friday performance featuring pianist Mitsuko Uchida.

The Lewis building is about five stories high. Instead of walls on the south side, it has a curving roof, made of 20,000 stainless-steel shingles, that seemingly tumbles to the ground.

Lewis, an art collector and the billionaire chairman of Progressive Insurance, gave Case $37 million toward construction of the building, which opened in the fall.


On the Net:

Peter B. Lewis Building: http://www.weatherhead.cwru.edu/pbl/

Case Western Reserve University: http://www.cwru.edu

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