GRAMBLING, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Alumnus Joshua Blackmon was there late Saturday night when shots rang out on the campus of Grambling State University during homecoming festivities, killing one and wounding seven others.
“Somebody had a pistol, but then it was a loud boom. It was like, two booms, so I’m thinking someone had to have shotguns or something, ’cause it went from pop, pop, pop, pop to a boom,” Blackmon recalled.
“People started running towards the registrar’s office. People started running towards old Grambling.”
Known for its football team, World Famed Tiger Marching band, and larger-than-life atmosphere during homecoming, Grambling brings alums from all over the world to take part in a weekend filled with festivities. The incident made national news, and it came just days after another deadly shooting on campus.
“I’m really, really hurt behind it,” said alumnus Vincent Williams who has gone to homecoming games for the past 33 years. “I haven’t gotten any sleep since it has happened, and anytime I turn on the news, this is what we’re seeing.”
Williams says he believes more focus on academics at Grambling and less partying could make a difference.
“If we place more emphasis on academics and let them know this is an academic institution and once they see that, they will realize that we are an academic institution, not some type of partying club. I think that will turn some of the non-students away.”
But Blackmon says that might be easier said than done.
“Well, it’s kind of hard to filter who is coming into campus and who is not. I mean, that is hard to do.”
Still, University President Rick Gallot says the shooting will change how the school approaches homecoming.
“This changes everything,” said Gallot. “This absolutely changes everything. I can assure you that going forward, homecoming is going to be different. What that new normal will look like will be the result of a lot of work with a lot of people who bring a level of expertise to planning that, quite frankly, none of us ever envisioned that we would ever have to do.”
Among the measures already in place is a curfew from 9:30 p.m. through 6 a.m.
“Our students come here for an education, and far too often it’s outsiders who have created these situations that have put life and limb in danger,” Gallot said in a statement released on the university’s website Monday. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not what we’re about after 120 years, and so again, our priority is keeping our students safe.”