Body found with bag of bombs at Florida college: ‘He was just above us’

Posted at 6:26 AM, Mar 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-18 15:08:40-04
From John Couwels, CNN

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) — A body. Guns. And a bag of bombs.

That’s what police found Monday morning when they entered a dorm room at the University of Central Florida.

The body, police said, was that of a male student who shared the dorm with three roommates. The weapons included a handgun and an assault weapon, the school said. He had apparently shot himself, said police.

Most disturbing was the bag of improvised explosive devices police found in the room.

An Orange County Sheriff’s bomb squad team examined the explosives and rendered them harmless. Federal agents have joined the investigation.

It all started around 12:20 a.m., when a fire alarm went off at the Tower 1 dormitory, police said. Someone called 911 describing a person with a gun in the building, said school spokesman Grant Heston.

Officers arrived and found the body in a bedroom.

The dorm, home to about 500 students, was evacuated.

“The way they handled it was disappointing because it started as a fire alarm,” said dorm resident Antionette Thompson. “Nobody said what was going on with a bomb and the shooting. So we were left in the dark.”

Thompson was among five dorm evacuees sitting together on a campus bench, some of them bundled up in a blanket, others still dressed in their pajamas. Another student dorm resident, Ashley Graham, said they received a text from authorities warning about a “suspicious death in Tower 1.” “It’s really horrible that someone had to die,” said Nathalie Sils-Aine. “It just makes me feel more unsafe.”

The university said it was providing food and counseling for the evacuated students at its Veterans Academic Resource Center.

As the investigation gets under way, there are a lot of questions: Was there a connection between the student and the 911 caller? Who was the 911 caller? Where did the guns come from?

“(We’re) trying to understand why he had the weapons he had,” UCF Police Chief Richard Beary said.

Firearms are prohibited at UCF, which is home to about 59,000 students at its main Orlando campus and 10 regional facilities.

As the evacuated students waited for hours to return to their building, worst-case scenarios raced through their heads.

“He was just above us,” Graham said. “What if the roof caved in because a bomb went off and everyone in the building got hurt? That’s just the crazy part.”

CNN’s Marlena Baldacci contributed to this report.

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