An 18-year-old freshman who poses with firearms on his Instagram page has been named as the suspect in a shooting that killed one student and injured three more this morning at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Steven Jones, described by one acquaintance as “a really nice kid,” is in police custody. According to one report, Jones left the scene of a fight early on the morning of October 9 and returned with a gun, opening fire from a distance.
He has been charged with one count of first degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault. Investigators do not think that this is a case of self-defense. Jones’ bail has been set at $2 million, cash only.
Heres what you need to know about Jones and the shooting at NAU:
1. Jones Was Tackled by Students After Opening Fire With a Handgun, Say Witnesses
Police say gunfire rang out around 1:20 a.m. local time after a fight outside the Mountain View Hall dormitory, which, according to the school’s website, “encompasses 18 of the 23 social Greek organizations on campus.” Shortly after, Jones was arrested without a struggle. The school was never placed on lockdown.
According to this Facebook post from an NAU student, Jones had been kicked out of a party and returned with a vengeance:
Steven Jones was kicked out of a party. He came back with some friends and started to fight with the victims. One was dead on arrival, one was shot in the stomach and lung, one was shot in the neck, straight through, and I can’t recall where the last one was shot. They’re all in surgery.
Speaking Heavy.com, Jones’ friend, Moriah Wester said that she spoke to the suspect on the night of October 8 and that he was studying in the library and “completely sober.”
The Arizona Daily Sun also reported that the fight broke out after a party. A witness told the paper:
We had just left a party and were standing in the street getting ready to walk home when a guy walked up with a pistol and just started shooting. … I heard five or six shots and then my friends just tackled him. They got him really quick. We were leaving and it all happened on the sidewalk across from Mountain View.
A man named Mark White told NBC Phoenix that Jones “was a really nice kid. I can’t believe he would have done something like this.”
According to NAU Police Chief Greg Fowler, the shooter used was a handgun. Fowler added, “We don’t know what caused the confrontation.”
2. All 4 Victims Were Members of the Delta Chi Fraternity
Rumors on Twitter spread fast that the shooting involved members of the school’s Delta Chi fraternity. Those rumors were confirmed by a statement from the frat, which read in part, “We have investigated the matter and can confirm that there were members involved.”
Authorities later named the victims as Colin Brough (deceased), Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring. The surviving victims are being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center.
According to his LinkedIn page, Colin Brough was an “associate member of The Delta Chi Fraternity, and a member of The Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.” He was a Business major at NAU. Brough listed his interests as “Lacrosse, hiking, snowboarding, boating, wake-boarding, basketball, new technologies, social marketing, and in general — being outside.” On his Facebook page, he says he’s a native of Annapolis, Maryland, where worked at Cantler’s Riverside, a seafood restaurant.
According to his Facebook page, Nick Prato is a native of Oceanside, California.
According to the fraternity’s website, there are over 107,000 members in the U.S. Delta Chi began at Cornell University in 1890 and is now based in Iowa City, Iowa.
3. ‘Guns Were Very Present in His Life From a Young Age’
On his Twitter page, where he goes by the handle @TheStevenSoFar, Jones’ last meaningful tweet featured his complaint about the lack of manners in society. Ten days before that, he wrote, “The three Gs of college: Gains, Girls and Grades #realtalk.” Jones also maintained a Tumblr page called Northernish on which he posted photos of himself on vacation. On that page, Jones says he was part of the class of 2019 at Northern Arizona University. His Instagram page includes evidence of his enthusiasm for guns, especially hunting rifles and military-style rifles. He shared no pictures of handguns.
His friend, Moriah Wester, told Heavy.com that “I know guns were very present in his life from a young age in a state where guns are normal from house to house. But he was always safe and even was a certified safety instructor when it came to guns.” She added “He is easily one of the nicest people I’ve met and has never come to a confrontation with a gun or an intention to hurt someone.” Meanwhile on his Instagram page, one commenter wrote that “Steven is a trained gun safety instructor, and I have been in serious confrontations with him on my side.” Wester went on to say that Jones didn’t have a girlfriend but was friends with numerous girls.
4. Jones & Victim Zientek Went to the Same High School
Investigators haven’t revealed the relationship between the suspect and the victims, however, Arizona Central reports that Jones and Zientek both attended Mountain Ridge High School in Deer Valley, but not at the same time. Zientek graduated from the school in 2013, while Jones was only there for a short time between January and April 2014.
5. This Shooting Comes a Week After Chris Harper Mercer Killed 9 People at Umpqua Community College
The shooting comes eight days after a 26-year-old gunman killed nine people and then turned the gun on himself at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Newsweek reports that the NAU shooting is the 46th school shooting in 2015.
According to KTRK-TV, there are more than 20,000 students at the Flagstaff campus of Northern Arizona University.
NAU, founded in 1899, is a public university with 27,000 students across its campuses, including the main Flagstaff campus. The school also has 36 satellite campuses across the state. In a statement, NAU President Rita Cheng said, “We are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and our entire Lumberjack family.” Cheng later said that “classes would continue as normal Friday but this is not going to be a normal day.”
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