At least two people were killed and four others injured in a shooting Tuesday at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus, emergency officials said.
Three of the injured were in critical condition, requiring surgery, UNCC Police Chief Jeff Baker told reporters Tuesday night. Each of them had suffered a gunshot wound, he said.
The two victims killed were identified as Ellis Parlier, 19, and Riley Howell, 21. Police said Wednesday that Howell charged at the shooter.
"He's an athletically built young man and he took the fight to the assailant. He unfortunately had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters. "He took the assailant off his feet. And then the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend him."
Police said the suspect, 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell, was in custody, and authorities did not have reason to believe anyone else was involved.
Authorities said the suspect used a gun that was purchased legally, but they were still trying to determine a motive.
"We can't really discern the 'why' just yet," Putney said. "It really appears there was no specific person [targeted] and the randomness is disconcerting."
For hours Tuesday, officers went room by room on campus to identify and release students and faculty who were sheltering in place.
The university alert system first notified students of the shooting in the area of the Kennedy Building, which houses classrooms and administrative offices, around 6 p.m. ET. A number of students were heading to the nearby stadium for a free concert by Waka Flocka Flame to celebrate the last day of classes, which was ultimately canceled.
University police dispatchers received a call that someone was armed with a pistol, and officers responded immediately, Baker told reporters. The officers disarmed the gunman and took him into custody, the police chief said.
"He never had time even to get out of the room," Baker said.
Terrell was then taken to police headquarters, shouting at TV cameras outside.
A UNCC student who did not want to be named told BuzzFeed News he estimated it took at least nine minutes for officers to respond to the scene of the shooting. In the meantime, one of the victims managed to leave the building and a National Guard medic who was nearby began providing first aid, the student said.
The gunman was later taken into custody in another building, the nearby Atkins Library, he believed. Another student's photo from the library shows a shattered glass door.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said on Twitter she was in shock to learn of the shooting.
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, those injured, the entire UNCC community and the courageous first responders who sprang into action to help others," she said.
By late Tuesday, officers were beginning to allow students back into campus buildings to retrieve their belongings. Exams scheduled through the weekend were canceled, the university said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper arrived on campus late Tuesday and vowed state support to all the students and families affected by the the shooting.
"We know the coming days, weeks, and months will be very difficult for students and families," he told reporters. "We know that for many people here, this will be the worst day of their lives."