Grambling State University’s administration decided to continue classes and homecoming events in the aftermath of two men being shot to death on campus around midnight Tuesday.
As of Wednesday evening, the killer was at large and the investigation by the Lincoln Parish Police Department was ongoing, but the university decided to continue operations. While some students at the Northern Louisiana historically Black institution were worried about this decision, the administration took extra steps to ensure the safety of the students during Grambling State’s Homecoming Week.
“It became apparent in the early hours that this was an isolated event that involved individuals who had had some sort of interactions,” said President Richard J. Gallot, Jr., who emphasized that this was not an active shooter situation but rather an incident involving a personal relationship. “In other words, they weren’t strangers, and it wasn’t a random event,” Gallot said.
One of the victims, Earl Andrews, 23, was a student in his senior year at Grambling State. Monquiarious Caldwell, the second victim, also 23, was visiting the campus. The reason for the shooting was still unclear.
Shortly after the shooting occurred, the university police department sent out a text message informing students of the incident and instructing them to stay in their rooms.
“The campus was not put on lockdown, but they told us to stay in our rooms,” said Brandon LaGarde, director of media relations for the Grambling State Student Government Association, or GSA. He added that the shooting occurred near the Bowen dormitories, which the students refer to as 900.
LaGarde expressed concern over the university’s decision to remain open on Wednesday.
“A lot of students are somewhat shaken up,” he said. “I did have a little concern about what happened as far as I thought we could’ve missed class just to have a day to breathe because it was a tragic situation,” LaGarde said, adding that students on campus were calling for a dialogue with the administration to prevent future shootings.
The shooting occurred during Grambling State’s annual Homecoming Week. The university scheduled a candlelight vigil for Wednesday night. The talent show scheduled the same night for Homecoming Week would proceed as planned.
“To be honest, I would like for everything to be cancelled, except for the game, but after the game I just want everyone to go home, just for the safety of the students,” said Senior Class President Brian Jefferson. He noted, however, that it felt important for students to be in their classes on Wednesday for the university to know they were safe.
Gallot explained that student absences would be excused for Wednesday. He said that the decision to continue with Homecoming Week came following discussions with the student government. Gallot added that the additional security for Homecoming Week would be further supplemented.
“Governor John Bel Edwards offered the Louisiana State Police,” he said. “State troopers will be on campus starting this evening until end of the weekend.”
Although Gallot and student government representatives expect a lower turnout at the Homecoming Week events, Gallot is confident in the students’ ability to support each other.
“This is a small community. We do see this as the Grambling Family or the #GramFam,” said Gallot. He noted that the Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone is an alumnus of the university’s criminal justice program. “As a community and as a family, we’re all-in in trying to bring closure to the investigation.”