BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
By the Daytona Times’ deadline Wednesday night, the suspects in a shooting on Bethune-Cookman University’s campus Monday evening were still at large and a $10,500 reward was being offered for their apprehension.
A video of the incident released by the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) shows a black SUV pull into the parking lot of the university near the music building on Monday evening. A Black male exits the SUV and is seen shouting at someone police officers say was “probably 100 yards away.”
The other person who cannot be seen on camera fires several rounds at the person who was shouting. He, in turn, fires several rounds as the off-screen individual re-enters the SUV and the vehicle leaves.
A swift response
In the shooting, bystanders Juanye Jones, 19, sustained an injury to his left ear, 18-year-old Keshaun Reeves was grazed on his right shoulder and a bullet grazed 18-year-old Dante Ridford’s right knee.
“It’s by the grace of God nobody was killed,” Dr. Edison O. Jackson, president of B-CU, told students at a meeting on Tuesday. “That’s a shout-out for God.”
Immediately following the incident, two suspects were apprehended by campus security officers and detained by DBPD officers. However, the suspects, who remain unnamed, were questioned and released.
DBPD officials say two different types of shell casings were recovered on the scene from a 9 mm handgun and a .40-caliber handgun.
“Our public-safety officers responded swiftly to secure the campus,” B-CU Director of Communications Beverly James said the night of the incident.
‘Guns aren’t allowed here’
On Tuesday, B-CU students attended a meeting at the Performing Arts Center where Jackson addressed the incident.
At that time, he offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who gave information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the persons involved in the shooting. He announced that another $500 would be given to any students for information on any person carrying a gun on campus.
“Guns aren’t allowed here,” Jackson stated. “We will pack your bags and send you home.”
Since that meeting, the university has upped the reward to $10,500; $5,000 would come from the university, DBPD pitched in the other $5,000 and the extra $500 is coming from the family of local civil rights pioneer Jimmy Huger.
“I’d rather have 3,000 students doing the right thing than 4,000 students and 1,000 of them doing wrong,” Jackson added.
A review of the Wildcats handbook signed by all students taking class at the university states, “The administration reserves the right, at any time, to require that students withdraw if their conduct is harmful to the best interest of Bethune-Cookman University.”
Bullets over fists
Sources say the shootout stemmed from a planned altercation and that several people knew a fight would be happening in front of the music building.
However, the fight never occurred and instead went from a shouting match to bullets being sprayed in the air. According to officials, at that point any witnesses there had left the scene and no eyewitnesses came forward.
Jackson urged students to come forward because the next time it might be them. “Remember, these were innocent bystanders who were shot,” he explained.
“I love you,” Jackson said to the students. “I said, I love you!” The students responded with a hearty, “We love you too!”
He added, “Stay focused. Pray for us. The devil is busy and he sees greatness in all of you. We’re going to move on.”
All too common
Retired Judge Hubert Grimes, director of B-CU’s Center for Law and Social Justice, weighed in on the shootings.
“The reality for all too many of our young people today is that we have allowed ourselves to accept a lie that the only way to resolve our differences is in harming one another and that goes beyond the borders of the college, it goes within our generations,” he remarked.
“It is so much beyond the notion of music and media all those things that kind of help feed that idea.
But that’s not who we really are. I really think that we are much better people than that and we can resolve our differences. We’ve resolved a lot worse situations before, but we’ve got to start thinking on how to best be about achieving something positive instead of harming one another.
Bauldy Sharpe Jr., a B-CU student and reigning Mr. B-CU told the Times, “Sometimes this is all someone knows. However, I agree with Judge Grimes. It is something that with maturity you learn to address by other means. You have to.”
DaQuan Bryant, B-CU’s Student Government president, added. ““The devil had a trap, but God had a plan. We are just going to continue to protect our alma mater. I am certain and I am confident in my university administration that they will make the necessary adjustments to insure our campus is safe.”
Jackson says additional security measures will be in place including extra cameras.
“Unfortunately, we can’t turn time around, but I think the cameras are a great asset,” Bryant added. “God has a way of bringing darkness to the light.”
Persons with information about Monday’s shooting can text “CRIMES” (274637) with a cell phone or log on to www.dbpd.us and click on Anonymous Web Tips. When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with “DBTIPS.” Tipsters remain anonymous.