|FAMILIES MOURN THE VICTIMS
Still Many Questions Surround Deadly Shooting
(Baton Rouge, LA – WAFB) Baton Rouge police say a young woman killed two female students in a classroom at a vo-tech college Friday, then killed herself. Police identified the victims as Karsheika Graves, age 21, and Tanieshia-Deanna Butler, age 26. Investigators identified the shooter as Latina Williams, age 23. Sergeant Don Kelly with Baton Rouge police says all three were students at the Louisiana Technical College campus. The shooter’s family lives in Mississippi. Baton Rouge police visited with them Friday night, trying to figure out what might have led Latina Williams to open fire. Funeral arrangements for the victims are still pending.9NEWS spoke with the family of Karsheika Graves. The tight-knit group believes Karsheika Graves will always be with them. “She was a beautiful person. Humble, kind, patient, never said an ill word about anyone,” says Karlyn Leblanc, Karsheika’s aunt. Her family is baffled. They have no idea why someone would shoot and kill the artistic mother of two. Graves was a painter, and on her way to becoming a nurse. Family members say in December, she would have graduated from Louisiana Technical College. “She had two babies but she wasn’t going to let that stop her. And that’s what I admired about her,” Leblanc says. She also says coroners tell her Graves’ body was found with a pencil in her hand, a strong indication of the kind of dedicated student she was. Graves was the mother of a one-year-old and a five-month-old baby. Funeral arrangements for the victims are still pending.The family of Tanieshia Butler was kind enough to invite 9NEWS to their home to share Tanieshia’s life. Butler was shot to death Friday morning while just simply sitting in a nursing class. “I am in disbelief. Until I actually see her face, I just don’t believe. Right now, I don’t believe it,” Ernest Butler says. Tanieshia’s husband is having a hard time staying strong, but he says he has to. “Right now, I am trying to pull it together for the kids, trying to get them through this.” The couple’s three children are 4, 9, and 12 years old. Tanieshia worked hard to put herself through school so that she could give her children a better life. Now, her mother wants to know how she’s supposed to encourage Tanieshia’s children to go to school. “You don’t want to live out your kids, you are supposed to be able to go to school. It’s supposed to be a safe place to go,” says Bobbie Landry. Tanieshia’s mother says she doesn’t why the shooter chose her daughter, but she does have a message for the family. “Out of your hands once they grow up. I pray for you. I’m sorry for your loss.” This family hopes whatever you take away from this that you learn from their lesson. “We’ve got little ones. You are preaching to them, teaching them to go to school and now, how are we supposed to tell them this, if they fear their lives how can you send them.” Friday morning, Tanieshia’s sister, Tont, was also at the college. She was across the hall, in another classroom. She heard the shots fired. Students and faculty at the school were kept on lockdown for nearly four hours as police interviewed witnesses to the classroom killings.Young people called their parents from the Louisiana Technical College Friday morning, pleading for them to call 911. The school is located on Airline Highway at Winbourne Avenue. The investigation continues into why anyone would shoot and kill innocent school mates. Here is what we do know:
“This is a situation where you have to analyze everything that goes on. There was nobody virtually that could have stopped, I believe, what happened today, absent checking everybody as they came into the building. But besides that, it’s a sad commentary when you have young people who are here to be educated at a great institution. And yet, they are gunned down and become innocent victims of violence at school. So to those families, to parents, to other people in the community, relatives of these individuals on both sides, this is a tragic day for Baton Rouge, it’s a tragic day for the nation,” Mayor Kip Holden says.
The campus will remain closed until next Wednesday, February 13th. However, school officials say that may change, depending on funeral arrangements. LTC officials will meet with faculty and staff on Tuesday to help prepare them to work with students once they return to class. The school says ICare counselors are currently on-site providing support for students, faculty, staff, and family members. If you feel you need help processing the emotional effects of the killings at Louisiana Technical College, call Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention at 924-3900.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
WAFB IS continuously updating the case. Check their website for the latest videos on the case: [Click Here] to check their website for videos on this case.
MOTIVE MYSTERY IN BATON ROUGE, LA. SHOOTINGS
|Student, 23, kills 2 classmates, selfBy KIMBERLY VETTER AND SONIA SMITH
Advocate staff writers
Published: Feb 9, 2008 – Page: 1A Police remained stumped late Friday as to why a woman shot and killed two other female students and then herself at Louisiana Technical College.“We still are no closer to learning a motive,” Sgt. Don Kelly, a Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman, said Friday afternoon. “We’ve interviewed several witnesses … and are unable to determine why this happened.”The shootings began around 8:30 a.m. when 23-year-old Latina Williams walked into a second-story classroom on the college’s campus at 3250 N. Acadian Thruway East, Kelly said.Williams spoke with a teacher and left the classroom, only to return moments later through a back door.Williams then emptied a six-shot .357-caliber revolver into Karsheika Graves, 21, and Taneshia Butler, 26, Kelly said. Williams reloaded the weapon and shot herself in the head.
About 20 people were in the classroom, Kelly said.
No one else was injured.
“My daughter was only 21 years old, just a baby,” Graves’ mother, Lola Jackson, said in a telephone interview from her Mississippi home. “She was my best friend.”
Ernest Butler, Butler’s husband of 10 years, said in a telephone interview that the last time he saw his wife was Thursday morning.
Taneshia Butler and Graves were both nursing students at the technical college, family members said.
Both women also were mothers.
Graves had two children with her fiancé, Lewis Thomas, Jackson said. Harmony is 20 months old and Trinity is 5 months, she said.
Graves and Thomas were going to get married this summer, but hadn’t set a date yet because she wanted to finish school first, Jackson said though tears.
“She lived her whole life struggling and when she finally started to bloom, everything ends,” said Karlyn LeBlanc, Graves’ aunt.
Butler had three children with her husband: Maya, 9, Destin, 4, and Rhythm, 2. The couple moved to Baton Rouge from Clinton five years ago.
Butler was a first-year nursing school student and had just started a new job, Ernest Butler said.
“She liked traveling. She was a fun person to be around,” he said. “She was good towards me and she was good towards her kids.”
A tough day
“It’s sad when you come to a learning institution and become a victim of a crime,” he said. “This has been a tough day for everyone.”
“Encourage them to talk to people when they see something wrong,” he said. “There is always a trail of information left behind something like this. Someone might have known something that could have prevented this.”
The way first responders handled the tragedy, however, was excellent, Holden said.
“There won’t be any Monday morning quarterbacking here,” Holden said. “I have the utmost confidence in everyone involved.”
Kelly said police entered the main building on the college’s campus four minutes after receiving multiple calls from inside.
Officers going up the stairs to classroom number 283, where the shootings occurred, could smell gunpowder, he said. When they entered the room, police found the women, all fatally shot.
Calling for help
“When the first shot was fired, I thought it was something else,” she said. “When the others were fired, I knew it was gunfire.”
Rodriguez and her classmates fell to the ground, turned off the lights and locked the three doors to their classroom, she said.
Almost everyone with a cell phone tried to call 911, but only one person was successful, Rodriguez said, citing a bad cellular signal from within the building.
“We all were trying to keep quiet so they didn’t think anyone was in there,” she said. “We all were trying to hide the lights from our cell phones.”
School officials immediately activated the school’s emergency response system to alert students, faculty and staff, according to a news release from the community and technical college system.
C.J. Weber, of Baton Rouge, said his girlfriend was inside the classroom where the shooting occurred and called him shortly after the shots were fired.
“She was crying and said a girl came into the classroom and started shooting,” he said. “All of a sudden, she said she would have to call me back.”
Weber immediately drove to the college and waited for hours to find his girlfriend, who was being questioned along with other witnesses.
Police detained potential witnesses inside the school building throughout the day, clearing the crime scene around 4 p.m.
Rachelle Franklin, 21, of Baton Rouge, said she was called about 8:40 a.m. by a friend who told her not to come to the campus because there had been a shooting in her nursing classroom.
Angelina Seal, 24, looked relieved after picking up her 4-year-old daughter, Rose, who had been in the on-campus day-care center.
But Seal’s mother, who works at the school, was able to bring the child to the side gate.
Once outside, Rose hugged her mother.
“It scared me,” the child said.
School remains closed
The Baton Rouge campus offers programs for nursing assistants and for students interested in a wide range of careers, including welding, automotive technology, culinary arts and carpentry.
The campus grew to an enrollment of nearly 1,500 in Fall 2007. The school is among seven Louisiana Community and Technical College System schools named to the list of “fastest growing two-year public institution” by the publication “Community College Week.”
The Baton Rouge campus was ranked 15th in the category of technical colleges with fewer than 2,500 students.
Advocate staff writers Koran Ado, Jordan Blum and Jeremy Harper contributed to this report.
KILLINGS HAUNT SHOOTER’S MOM:
No answers yet in tech school attack
By SONIA SMITH
Advocate staff writer
Published: Feb 10, 2008 –
BATON ROUGE, La. — The mother of the nursing student who gunned down two classmates before killing herself at Louisiana Technical College Friday said she will be “haunted to the end of my days by what my child has done.”
In a written statement issued Saturday through Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. Don Kelly, Jennie Williams condemned her daughter Latina Williams’ actions and offered her condolences to the victims’ families.
“We have many questions but no answers,” the statement says. “As Latina’s mother, I will not try to rationalize or make excuses for her action.”
Latina Williams, 23, went into a second-floor classroom about 8:30 a.m. and shot Karsheika Graves, 21, and Taneshia Butler, 26, multiple times with a .357-caliber revolver, police have said.
Two witnesses to the shootings — who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation — said Williams then stopped to reload the gun.
Williams said, “Don’t worry, I’m not mad at y’all,” before shooting herself in the head, said the two women.
A student who saw the shooting, Morgan Raiford, said the reason for the killings might remain a mystery.
“There may always be a piece of the puzzle missing,” Raiford said.
The shooting occurred while the Licensed Practical Nurse students were taking a test, she said.
Returning to the classroom without Graves and Butler will be difficult, Raiford said.
“They were both beautiful people inside and out,” she said. “It’s a shame they weren’t able to be here longer, to do what they planned to do.”
Williams did not leave a suicide note on her person, said Don Moreau, chief of operation’s for the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office.
“Frankly, (the motive) may never be known,” Kelly, the police spokesman, said Saturday in an e-mail.
Kelly declined to release any other details of the shooting.
Results from toxicology tests on Williams are pending, Moreau said.
Latina Williams does not have a criminal record in East Baton Rouge or Orleans parishes, according to court records.
Graves’ fiancé Lewis Thomas said the couple’s two daughters — 20-month-old Harmony and 5-month-old Trinity — had trouble sleeping Friday night without their mother.
“They were really close knit with their mom,” Thomas said.
Thomas said he never heard Graves talk about Williams and does not think she would have had a reason to target Graves.
Ernest Butler, Taneshia Butler’s husband of 10 years, said their three children — Maya, 9, Destin, 4, and Rhythm, 2 — are coping with the loss of their mother.
“But right now we’re in mourning,” he said in a telephone interview as he drove home from a Maringouin funeral home.
Funeral arrangements for both women are pending, family members said Saturday. Classes on the campus may resume Wednesday, school officials have said.
The school is holding a candlelight memorial for the victims on its campus at 3250 North Acadian Thruway East at 5:15 today.
MOURNERS GATHER, REMEMBER FRIENDS
Event pays tribute to slain students
By SONIA SMITH
Advocate staff writer
Published: Feb 11, 2008 –
Mourners clutching candles gathered Sunday evening to remember the nursing students slain Friday in their classroom at Louisiana Technical College.
At the end of Sunday’s ceremony, some of the classmates who witnessed the shootings stood on a stage in front of the technical college, a few hundred feet from the second-floor classroom where Latina Williams, 23, opened fire on two of her classmates at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
“We never expected to stand here today being the survivors of a class shooting,” nursing student Helen Pham said on behalf of her classmates. “We never fathomed that we would have to say goodbye to our classmates, our friends.”
Williams fatally shot Taneshia Butler, 26, and Karsheika Graves, 21, before turning the .357-caliber revolver on herself, police have said.
Pham said she and her classmates believe the victims were not specifically targeted.
“We believe that the shooting was not provoked by Taneshia or Karsheika, and that their proximity (to the shooter) determined their fate,” Pham said.
Butler and Graves were sitting in the rear of the classroom, near the door through which Williams entered the room.
Mourners on Sunday offered condolences to family members in attendance, remembering Butler for her sense of humor and passion and Graves for her drive to succeed and for her kindness.
“These two students were enrolled in nursing, probably one of the most noble professions that we know of,” said Jim Henderson, a senior vice president with the Louisiana Community & Technical College System.
Bouquets of flowers, teddy bears and balloons accumulated at an impromptu memorial by the flagpole in front of the school on Acadian Thruway.
Piano music played quietly in the background as a line of mourners filed around tables to write their condolences on posters printed with Graves’ and Butler’s pictures.
Speaking to the crowd, Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff said he had been discussing Thursday’s Missouri City Hall shootings that left five dead Friday morning when the call came in he has always dreaded — a shooter in a school.
LeDuff applauded his officers’ compassionate and deliberate response to the situation and its aftermath.
Two days after the shooting, no motive has emerged.
“I walked up here and I sat in a corner of that room where these three children were laying, and I wondered why,” LeDuff said.
“The theme of that day was ‘why?’ ”
Many in the crowd echoed that sentiment.
“I don’t think we’ll ever have the answers that we’re looking for,” Phyllis Beckman, associate chief academic officer at the school, said in an interview.
A toxicology report on Williams is pending. Also not made public at this point is where she got the gun.
The campus community should not let the lack of answers hamper the healing process, said Dr. Kay McDaniel, dean of the Baton Rouge campus of the college.
McDaniel shared a letter Butler had written recently to instructor Sylvia Kleinow.
“Be encouraged. No matter what’s going on, He will make it right, but you’ve got to be strong,” McDaniel said, quoting Butler’s letter.
Lois Holden, speaking on behalf of her husband, Mayor-President Kip Holden, implored the community to pull together.
“Let Friday, Feb. 8, 2008, be not remembered as just a day when three beautiful students lost their lives, but rather as a catalyst that brought the whole city of Baton Rouge together,” Holden said.
A fund for the families and children of the deceased — the LTC Baton Rouge Campus Student Memorial Fund — has been established at Chase Bank.
(Articles courtesy of The Advocate: http://www.2theadvocate.com )
FAMILY, TEACHERS REMEMBER KARSHEIKA GRAVES:
FUNERAL SERVICES HELD FOR TANIESHA BUTLER (VIDEO):