Man shoots UM student, commits suicide in garage

Victim in critical condition after attack near arena

April 26, 2003|By Jason Song and Alec MacGillis | Jason Song and Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - A 21-year-old Silver Spring man shot and seriously wounded a University of Maryland student yesterday afternoon before fatally shooting himself in what police described as an attempted murder-suicide in the parking garage next to the college's new basketball arena.

Police said that the gunman and the student, a 20-year-old woman, knew each other, but the nature of their relationship was unclear.

The man, Ki-Seong Kim, was a college student but was not attending the University of Maryland, police said. They described the woman as an Asian student living in Burtonsville, but declined to release her name.

The shooting is the second violent attack on a UM student this school year on or around campus. In November, a sophomore from Baltimore County was stabbed to death outside an off-campus party that had been crashed by non-students.

Yesterday's shooting, just before 12:45 p.m., occurred on the third floor of the five-level garage behind the 17,100-seat Comcast Center off Route 193 on the northeastern edge of campus.

Prince George's County Police Capt. Andrew Ellis said witnesses reported that Kim used his car to block the woman's car. He got out of his car and walked up to her car, where she was sitting in the driver's seat.

After a brief conversation, Ellis said, Kim shot the woman in the head with a semiautomatic handgun from outside her car.

A moment later, Kim shot himself in the head while still outside his car, Ellis said. Witnesses reported hearing only two shots, with a pause between them.

Kim and the woman were rushed to area hospitals, one by ambulance and one by helicopter. Kim was pronounced dead three hours after the shooting.

The woman was listed in critical condition at Washington Hospital Center last night. Ellis said she was in very "grave" condition, which he described as even worse than critical.

At their Silver Spring home last night, Kim's family released a statement through their friend John Park, who was with them. The family "is shocked at the reported incident that took place this afternoon and which led to the death of their youngest and only son," he said.

"The family also expresses its utmost concern for the well-being of the other student involved in this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with their family."

Police recovered a pistol at the scene and were not looking for any suspects in connection with the case, police and university officials said. "It does not appear to be an act of random violence," Ellis said.

Sophomore microbiology major Xiomaria Larios, 19, was at her car preparing to leave the garage at the time of the shooting and heard the shots, one level below her.

"I just didn't think it could happen. I thought [the shots] were something else, not an actual shot. I didn't think it was gunshots because it was not very loud," Larios said. "I turned on my car, pretended that nothing happened, and was getting ready to pull down the grade when someone comes up from the other side and tells me that I can't get out that way, that there's two bodies on the ground down there."

About 3:30 p.m., police removed two cars from the garage with a tow truck. First came a black Volkswagen Jetta with what appeared to be a bag of laundry on the front passenger-side seat and a stuffed animal on the back seat. It was followed by a white Honda Civic with blood on the driver-side seat and door frame. A white toy cat hung in the windshield of the Civic.

Word of the shooting unsettled a campus that has seen several instances of death and violence in the past two years. There was the stabbing in November of sophomore Brandon Malstrom in which three non-students have been charged.

Last spring, a freshman died after excessive drinking at a fraternity event. In the fall of 2001, another fraternity member was found dead on his fraternity's porch, a death later linked to the party drug GHB. That same semester, two students, sisters from Howard County, died in a tornado.

"Everyone I've spoken to is very upset," said student government President Brandon DeFrehn, who went to the garage to learn more about the shooting. "It's really sad. Each time you go through it, you hope it's the last time you have to deal with this kind of situation."

University President C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr. issued a brief statement that extended condolences to the families of those involved. "The university community was shocked and saddened this afternoon when it learned of a shooting in a campus parking garage," he said.

During the week, the garage is used primarily by commuter students and students living in a private apartment complex on the other side of Route 193.

Ivan Borissow, a freshman who parks his car in the garage, said his parents called his cell phone to tell him there had been a shooting near the Comcast Center.

"It's kind of scary, that that sort of thing is so close and happens during broad daylight. It just shows you're not always safe," he said. His car was on the third floor, he said, and police wouldn't let him remove it until midafternoon.

The shooting occurred the day before today's Maryland Day, an annual campuswide celebration, which is expected to draw as many as 60,000 visitors from surrounding communities to the university. UM spokesman George Cathcart said the event would proceed as planned.

Sun staff writer Stephanie Hanes and special correspondent Dave J. Iannone contributed to this article.

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