“This kind of thing just doesn’t happen in our happy little hippy town,” said Veronica Riner, senior at NAU. Early in the morning of Oct. 9, Riner was awoken by a flurry of frightened text messages from friends and family as well as a message from the NAU alert system. An act of gun violence had happened on campus. Another school shooting had occurred, but this time, it was happening right down the street. Around 1 a.m. that morning, an argument between members of the Delta Chi fraternity and freshman Steven Jones ended with one student dead and three seriously injured. Directly outside of the Mountain View Hall, home to over 500 students in fraternities and sororities, Jones pulled a gun from his car and drew on the Delta Chi brothers, killing freshman Colin Brough before being taken into custody.
The news of the shooting spread quickly through the intimate Flagstaff campus. Reactions were varied due to the recent surge of school shootings in the past year. “We were shocked, because it was in our community, but it was like ‘Oh, it’s another one’. Shootings have just become commonplace,” said Riner. “We were shocked, but not as shocked as we should have been.” Although coverage of the shooting wrapped up quickly, the effects of the tragedy continued to be felt at NAU. A private candlelight vigil was held on Friday night for residents of Mountain View Hall and those directly involved with Greek life on campus. On the following Tuesday, the March of Solidarity took place. Beginning at NAU’s southern quad, students marched all the way to the north quad at Old Main where speeches were made by school officials, including the president of NAU, Rita Cheng. However, the most telling demonstration of NAU’s broken heart was an impromptu tribute by the choir in the Student Union.
Students from various NAU choirs gathered in the Union where they joined hands and sang to memorialize the victims of shooting that morning. Zach Martin, a vocal performance major and senior at NAU took part in the choir performance in the Union on Friday afternoon. He described the tribute as a way to help the students and campus heal the trauma that had shocked the usually peaceful campus to its core. “As musicians, when you’re faced with violence and tragedy, you deal with it with music,” said Zach “It was a way for us to heal, but it was also for everyone else on campus,”
As a result of the shooting, the gun carry laws are being brought into question. Currently, guns are not allowed to be kept in the resident halls, but are allowed to be stowed in a student’s vehicle. Many officials and students are questioning whether or not this policy should stand in the future. “The fact that he was able to have that gun legally on campus is insane,” said Riner “I agree with amending that law to ban guns on campus altogether,”
Martin agreed as well, stating that firearms have no business in college life. “If you take the gun out of the equation, it was just some guys getting in fight, no one had to lose their lives.”