Clark Atlanta tightens security after 4 students shot at block party

Several students shot during block party near Clark Atlanta University

Officials at Clark Atlanta University on Thursday said the school is ramping up security efforts, effective immediately, after four women were shot at a block party in front of the Atlanta University Center library.

The university’s public safety employees will start working 12-hour shifts to “enable us to provide 24-hour coverage on campus,” Interim President Lucille H. Maugé said in a message to students Thursday.

“We have heard you and we will move forward to address your concerns and improve the safety and well-being of all CAU students,” she said.

The police department is moving away from its typical eight-hour shifts “until further notice,” Clark Atlanta police Chief Debra A. Williams said. The department adjusts its manpower accordingly in response to all major incidents for more visibility on campus, she said.

Atlanta police have also committed to increase the police presence in the campus area, she said.

The new security measures come days after two Clark Atlanta students and two Spelman College students were hospitalized with injuries ranging from graze wounds to gunshot wounds during an incident at a party. The four women were hit when someone opened fire into a crowd of about 200 in front of the Robert W. Woodruff Library on James P. Brawley Drive, previously reported.

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The party, hosted by a third-party event company, was supposed to be a celebration of the end of new student orientation and the start of classes Wednesday. It was an unsanctioned event, according to Maugé.

“Initial investigation seems to indicate an argument broke out between two parties prior to the shooting,” Atlanta police public affairs director Carlos Campos said Wednesday morning in a statement. “It appears the women were not the intended targets of the shooting.”

Three victims were taken by ambulance from the scene, and the fourth showed up at Grady Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound.

Police later identified the four as Erin Ennis, 18, of Powder Springs; Maia Williams-McLaren, 18, of Boston; Elyse Spencer, 18, of Rochester, N.Y.; and Kia Thomas, 19, of Jonesboro.

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Friends posted on social media that Spencer, who is a Spelman freshman, was shot in the chest, and another woman was shot in the leg.

Spencer took to Twitter to let friends and family know she was OK and to thank them for their prayers.

“I’m here, I’ve alive,” she said. “God got me. Y’all got me.”

Three of the four women have been released from the hospital, Maugé said in a statement. The fourth student “successfully came through surgery and is recovering,” she said.

No arrests have been made. However, police released surveillance video of the man they believe shot the students. Campos said the video shows the suspect wearing a white T-shirt, gray sweat pants, a tan Gucci hat and gray New Balance sneakers.

It is unknown if the shooter was a student at the AUC, which includes Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta.

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Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Crime Stoppers Atlanta. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by calling 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.