BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published April 10, 2009
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A community college student apparently used a shotgun to kill an aspiring actress and dancer Friday on the campus west of Detroit where they attended class together before killing himself as police rushed to the scene.
Officers heard a gunshot as they rushed inside a Henry Ford Community College building and discovered the bodies of 20-year-old Asia McGowan of Ecorse and 28-year-old Anthony Powell of Detroit in a classroom.
"Nothing like this has ever occurred on campus," said Marjorie Swan, vice president/controller at the school, which was locked down as police and campus security worked to secure the area.
Police responded after a 12:30 p.m. emergency call of an assault and received reports of gunfire while en route, said Dearborn Deputy Police Chief Gregg Brighton. They set up a perimeter around the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, where police say a theater class McGowan and Powell took was held earlier Friday.
Police said Powell apparently shot McGowan at least once and then himself. Their bodies were found in a first-floor classroom in the two-story, brick building. Police don't think anyone else was in the room at the time of the shooting.
Brighton said they took at least the one course together.
Aveah McGowan told The Associated Press Friday evening that her sister had spoken of Powell.
"I think they were just seeing each other," 22-year-old Aveah McGowan said by phone from Ecorse.
But the girls' father, Turahn McGowan, said he never heard of Powell.
A call to a phone number listed for Anthony Powell in Detroit wasn't immediately answered Thursday night.
Asia McGowan, one of four siblings, graduated from Ecorse High School and the Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit, he said.
"She was beautiful, an aspiring actress and dancer," said Turahn McGowan, who added that his daughter had planned to try out for the Fox network's "So You Think You Can Dance" talent competition.
Swan said the school successfully used its campus-wide e-mail and cell phone alert system for the first time for an emergency to warn students and staff. The lockdown later was lifted but classes were canceled. By 5 p.m., the campus was mostly empty except for investigators, some school officials and media.
The shooting happened on Good Friday, and the 17,000-student commuter school in suburban Detroit wasn't as busy as usual, based on how full the parking lots were, Swan said. A notice on the school's Web site said it would be closed Saturday, the next day that classes had been scheduled.
The school said on its Web site Friday night that the college is closed until Monday.
"Our hearts go out to the family and the friends of the young woman who lost her life today," Swan said.
Christian Plonka, 12, was in an auditorium at the MacKenzie building, which is used for theater, music and arts classes. The middle schooler from Dearborn goes to the campus several times a week for a theater program.
He said he heard a banging sound and went to find out what was happening.
"I heard one gunshot, and I saw someone getting pulled back into the room they were in," he said.
Plonka and other students in the program ran into a parking lot at the adjacent University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, where they waited until police gave the all-clear to leave. By that time, dozens of police officers from Dearborn, as well as Michigan State Police troopers, had converged on the campus.
"I was rattled," Plonka said.
Carolyn Cajas, 39, an arts student at the college, was at home when she learned about the shooting from TV news and rushed to campus to see what was going on. She said she believed she knew the woman who was killed.
"It's a good school. It's like anything that happens tragically in life ... you've got to mourn and help each other get through it," she said.
Cajas said it will be difficult, but she plans to return to class.
Earlier Friday, a 19-year-old gunman wounded three people at a vocational training college in Athens, Greece, before killing himself, authorities said.
The shootings came a week after Jiverly Wong walked into the American Civic Association center in Binghamton, N.Y., and killed 14 people before turning the gun on himself.
— Associated Press Writer Corey Williams contributed to this report.