The campus of Delaware State University was locked down Friday after two freshman students were shot and wounded, one seriously, when an argument that had begun at a university cafeteria resumed on the street, the police said.
The two suspects in the shootings were also students, the police said. One was taken into custody for questioning, and the other was being sought Friday night. Neither was identified publicly.
University officials responded quickly to the shootings, which occurred just before 1 a.m. Friday near Memorial Hall, a complex that includes the gymnasium and athletic department offices.
Officials alerted students of the emergency within 15 minutes and locked down most buildings. Within two hours, students and administrators said, officials at the 400-acre campus about 95 miles east of Washington had posted fliers at dorms and a message on the campus Web site. They also telephoned campus residence halls to make sure resident advisers knew what was going on and to tell them that classes were canceled Friday.
“We learned from Virginia Tech,” said a university spokesman, Carlos Holmes, referring to a massacre in April by a mentally disturbed student. Thirty-two people were shot over the course of two hours, and Virginia Tech officials were later criticized by a state panel for not having locked down the campus and alerting students more quickly.
The police said that not long before the shooting a group of 8 to 10 students left the cafeteria after an argument. When they encountered one another again at a nearby corner one of them pulled a gun and began firing.
Shalita Middleton, a 17-year-old from Washington, was shot twice in the torso, and Nathaniel Pew, 17, of Washington, was shot once in the ankle, officials in the District of Columbia mayor’s office said.
It was not clear whether either victim was among those students involved in the original argument or were bystanders, the police said.
Ms. Middleton was taken by helicopter to Christiana Hospital in Stanton, where she was in critical condition, and Mr. Pew was taken to Bayhealth Medical Center here, said John Wilson, the deputy chief of Kent County Emergency Services.
Delaware State’s president, Allen L. Sessoms, said the shootings were “a case of our own students making really poor choices and acting incredibly badly.”
“These are just kids who did very, very stupid things,” Mr. Sessoms said, adding that some students at the university come from troubled neighborhoods where disputes may be settled violently. “They bring some of the tensions and some of the concerns with them when they come to this campus,” he said.
Delaware State, a historically black university, has about 3,700 students on the main campus in Dover and satellite programs in Wilmington and Georgetown.
In August, four Delaware State students, two returning and two incoming, were shot in Newark, N.J. Three of the students died and the fourth was seriously wounded, but those shootings were not linked to the university.