Police Investigate Fatal Shooting at Miss. Dorm

March 26, 2012
The shooting death of a 21-year-old Mississippi State University student in a campus dorm room is thought to be an "isolated incident."

The shooting death of a 21-year-old Mississippi State University student in a campus dorm room is thought to be an "isolated incident," and there is no indication others are endangered, the school's president said Sunday.

Campus police were notified about 10 p.m. Saturday of an incident in Evans Hall, a dorm for male students on the northwest side of the campus, Mark Keenum said Sunday.

John Sanderson, of Madison, Mississippi, was found with "what appeared to be serious injuries" in the dorm. He was transported to a nearby hospital, but "unfortunately could not be saved," Keenum said.

Bill Kibler, vice president for student affairs at the Starkville, Mississippi, school, said Saturday the victim was shot more than once. Three men who did not appear to be university students were seen fleeing in a blue sedan, he said.

The shooting prompted the school to send out a campus-wide alert through a series of text messages.

The school's emergency response procedures "were executed quickly and effectively last night," Keenum said Sunday.

Early Sunday morning, police were talking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance tapes.

Campus police stepped up patrols, Keenum said, assisted by officers from Starkville and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office.

"Throughout the night and into this morning, we have kept the campus informed of developments through our Maroon Alert emergency notification system," the president said. "But we have had no indication that there is a danger to others and we believe this was an isolated incident."

Keenum said he could not release many details because of the ongoing investigation, led by university police and assisted by authorities from the city, county and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

"Our Bulldog Family is saddened by this event and the loss of one of our students," he said. "Our hearts go out to John Sanderson's family and friends. They continue to be in our prayers."

Campus safety, he said, is a top priority.

"This is the first time in our school's history that such a tragic incident has occurred, involving a student being shot on campus," he said. "Our campus is known as a safe place, and I want to assure students, parents, faculty and staff that it continues to be safe."

"Mississippi State University's main campus is located in a rural, low crime area," the university website said. "Serious emergencies happen rarely and are usually weather related -- ice storms and wind events."

The school, located on 4,200 acres about 125 northeast of Jackson, had a 2011 fall enrollment of 20,424.

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