2 victims in Va. shootings in stable condition
CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (AP) — Two women who were shot by a gunman at a community college in a mall in southwest Virginia, causing students and shoppers to flee in a panic, were reported to be in stable condition Saturday.
Both women were being treated at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Christiansburg Police Department spokeswoman Becky Wilburn said. Roanoke is about 35 miles from Christiansburg.
Wilburn said the women’s names or additional information on their injuries would not be released, citing privacy concerns.
She gave the information one day after the shootings at a satellite campus of New River Community College. She did not give any other details about the shooting or about suspect Neil Allan MacInnis, an 18-year-old student at the college who has been charged with two counts each of malicious wounding and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Investigators said Friday that they don’t know what motivated the shootings. Authorities have not said what type of weapon was used or how it was obtained.
A student who hid Friday afternoon as the gunfire rang out said the shooter attempted to lure more students out of hiding by pretending he was a police officer.
Clara Keller said she was working in a computer lab Friday at New River Community College’s satellite campus in a Christiansburg mall when she heard a gunshot. As more sounded and a woman screamed, she and four friends huddled under a desk.
Keller said the shooter called out, “Help, help!” as he walked, apparently feigning to be a victim, then yelled, “It’s the police!′
But Keller said she and her friends didn’t take the bait.
“The guy’s a terrible actor,” Keller told The Roanoke Times (http://bit.ly/110I7yo). “I knew it was just a matter of holding still as long as possible until the real police got there.”
Police arrested MacInnis minutes later. He was being held without bail Saturday at Montgomery County Jail. A jail employee said he did not have an attorney. A telephone listing for a family member was busy.
The shootings occurred in a section of the New River Valley Mall that had been converted to classrooms for the community college.
Police Chief Mark Sisson said at a news conference late Friday that authorities are investigating online postings reportedly made by MacInnis before the shooting but that he was unable to confirm whether those postings were legitimate.
The police chief also said MacInnis participated in the Christiansburg Police Department Citizens Academy program in 2012. The 12-week course gives civilians an idea of what happens at the department on a typical day, according to a news release seeking participants for the free program. The program puts civilians in patrol cars with police officers and provides other activities related to police work.
Christiansburg is a town of about 21,000 in southwest Virginia, less than 10 miles from Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech.