Members of the media pass the crime scene on 36th Avenue in College Park where… (Bonnie Jo Mount/THE WASHINGTON…)
Dayvon Green spread the charcoal in little piles in and around the house he shared with other University of Maryland students. He lit the coals, and smoke crept through the home.
The flames awakened his roommate Stephen Rane about 1 a.m. Tuesday. Rane roused a third student living at the house in College Park, and the two ran outside. With Green, they came up with a plan to put out the fires.
But then Green pulled a 9mm pistol from his waistband. One roommate ran, and Green started firing. When he was done shooting, Green walked around to the back yard and killed himself.
Rane lay dead out front, and the student who ran was seriously wounded.
Police later searched Green’s shoulder pack and found a semiautomatic Uzi rifle with ammunition, a machete and a baseball bat.
The burst of student violence just off campus on 36th Avenue thrust the university to the center of the national debate on mental health and gun control. Green’s family members told Prince George’s County police detectives that he was taking medication for a diagnosed mental illness. Investigators said Green was able to buy both the handgun and the Uzi legally.
In Annapolis, where lawmakers are weighing a package of strict gun-control measures in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., several said Tuesday’s deaths added urgency to their efforts.
Police said they do not know whether Green, 23, a graduate engineering student, had any plans beyond the shooting at his home. He did not leave a suicide note or a manifesto threatening additional violence.
Prince George’s police spokeswoman Julie Parker said it would be a “challenge” to determine whether Green had broader intentions.
University officials said Green never sought mental health treatment on campus.
“This is one of those most horrific things,” University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said at the shooting scene. “As a parent, I would dread the call that my son, who is at the university he wanted to go to, is dead.”
Stephen Alex Rane, 22, was a senior English major from Silver Spring. No one answered the door at his family’s home Tuesday. Police declined to identify the wounded housemate, a 22-year-old undergraduate student, who was expected to survive.
Chip Cobb, 24, a graduate student who lives next to the house, said he turned off his lights, ducked into a corner and “curled up in a ball” when he heard the shooting. When he emerged after the gunfire, he said, he saw fires in his yard and, soon after, police swarming the neighborhood with guns drawn.
“For me, I’m just grateful that I’m alive and that my friends are alive,” he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, homicide detectives were trying to determine a motive for the shootings or why Green snapped. Authorities said Green, whose family is from the Baltimore area, was a full-time graduate student in engineering who had done his undergraduate work at Morgan State University. He once participated in the NASA Student Ambassadors program.
Clinton R. Coleman, a spokesman for Morgan State, said Green graduated in 2012 with a degree in engineering. Coleman said officials from the University System of Maryland were on campus reviewing the student’s background. He said they picked up documents but did not know what they took.
At least locally, Green’s record bears only a minuscule blemish: an alcohol-related ticket that was dismissed this month. Parker said police had been called to the home twice before: once in October for a burglary in which nothing was taken and again last month when a prank caller referenced “hair on a couch” before hanging up.
University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said his department, too, had received no reports that Green might be a threat.
“He was not on the radar screen at all,” Mitchell said. “It’s just a god-awful tragedy.”
Parker said Green’s family told detectives that Green had battled some type of mental illness for the past year and was taking medication. She declined to be more specific. Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss the investigation, said he suffered from schizophrenia.
Messages left for Green’s relatives were not returned. After a reporter knocked on the door of the family’s home in the Baltimore suburb of Rosedale, a neighbor emerged and quickly shut the door behind her, saying “no comment” as she walked away.
Two others on the street also declined to talk. But one older man who lives next door to the Greens said: “As far as I know he was a nice young man. He went to college and he was helpful when I needed it.”