Off-campus shooting in College Park puts spotlight on gun control -- Gazette.Net



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Prince George’s County police say a University of Maryland, College Park, student believed to have killed his roommate and then himself Tuesday morning was mentally ill, and officials are questioning how he was able to legally purchase firearms.

Dayvon Maurice Green, 23, is suspected of killing roommate Stephen Alex Rane, 22, and non-fatally shooting another roommate outside their off-campus rental home in College Park before turning the 9 mm handgun on himself, according to police.

Police said Green had been suffering from a mental illness for the past year and was on medication, though they would not give details about the illness or medication.

A source with knowledge of the investigation said Green was self-admitted to a mental facility in 2009 and had a history of Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The source said county officials are now trying to determine whether Green was admitted in the institution for more than 30 consecutive days, which would have legally disqualified him from purchasing and owning firearms based on Maryland law.

About 200 people attended a memorial Tuesday evening at the university’s Memorial Chapel, where many questioned what could be done to prevent similar tragedies.

“Many are asking, ‘What do we need to change?’ But tonight is a moment for solidarity,” said President Wallace Loh, who delivered opening remarks at the memorial. “There are lessons to learn, policies to be discussed and changes to be made. But we will not forget. We will act.”

College Park Mayor Andy Fellows said the City Council will work with the university to see if the incident was preventable and questioned how Green possessed weapons.

“I don’t know how that student had access to that weapon. I wonder how a person who’s clearly disturbed had access to a gun,” he said. “We need to come up with a comprehensive way of approaching access to guns and mental illness. I’m really saddened by it.”

Police said they did not find a suicide letter or any premeditated plans, but found a bag of weapons next to Green’s body when they responded to the shooting around 1 a.m.

Inside the bag, detectives found a machete, baseball bat, a loaded semi-automatic Uzi and rounds of ammunition, police said. Next to Green’s body was also the 9 mm police said was used in the murder-suicide.

Police said their investigation shows that Green legally purchased the 9 mm in Baltimore County in 2012. The Uzi was also bought legally from a gun store in Silver Spring on Jan. 18, according to police.

University of Maryland officials said they were not aware of Green’s alleged psychological illness.

Friends leaving the memorial Tuesday said Rane, an undergraduate student from Silver Spring, “brought this light with him” to class and was smart, friendly and funny.

“He was overall just a person who would walk into the classroom, and everyone would be less stressed out,” said junior Meenu Singh, 20, of Potomac, who said she took an English class with Rane last fall.

Green was a UM graduate student studying engineering, according to police. He previously graduated from Morgan State University’s engineering program as an undergraduate, according to police, and was a former intern for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, according to NASA’s website. Online Prince George’s County court records show one case for Green, who was given a citation for having an alcoholic beverage in a public place in October 2012, but that charge was dropped.

University Police Chief David Mitchell said there were no known indications that Green was a threat to others, though he did say as police investigate they may discover signs.

“The lesson here is that it’s a God-awful tragedy involving a man with a bright future,” Mitchell said. “Today is a day for prayer, tomorrow is a day for action.”

Prince George’s County Councilman Eric Olson (D-Dist. 3) of College Park said he expects the circumstances of the incident to play a part in the countywide and statewide debate over gun control.

“Obviously, any offense with a gun is horrendous and any murder is horrendous,” Olson said. “I’m sure this will become a part of the [gun control] debate. It’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t.”

djgross@gazette.net