Delta State professor fatally shot; Mississippi campus lockdown lifted as manhunt continues for gunman

Delta State professor fatally shot; Mississippi campus lockdown lifted as manhunt continues for gunman

A statewide manhunt is underway for a Mississippi college instructor suspected of killing his girlfriend then driving five hours to Delta State University and fatally shooting a fellow professor.

Police suspect Shannon Lamb fatally shot Amy Prentiss early Monday in Gautier, Miss. This photo shows the couple at Disneyland in July 2014. (Facebook)
Police suspect Shannon Lamb fatally shot Amy Prentiss early Monday in Gautier, Miss. This photo shows the couple at Disneyland in July 2014. (Facebook)

Late Monday, police identified Amy Prentiss, 41, as the victim of an early morning deadly shooting at a home in Gautier, MS.

Detectives believe 45-year-old Shannon Lamb —who remains at large and is described as armed and dangerous — killed Prentiss then drove to Cleveland, Miss. where he fatally shot popular history professor, Ethan Schmidt, on the Delta State campus. No motive for either homicide has been revealed.

Gautier police told reporters at a news conference that they have been in contact with Lamb who told them he will "not go to jail." They also warned law enforcement to use "extreme caution" in pursuing Lamb.

The second shooting occurred shortly before 11 a.m. inside Schmidt's office in an academic building. No students were injured, but the campus remained on lockdown until late Monday evening as police tried to locate Lamb.

According to officials, Lamb phoned police at approximately 10:20 a.m. to alert them to Prentiss's death in  Gautier, a Gulf Coast community 300 miles away from Delta State. About 20 minutes later, the school put its campus on lockdown amid reports of an active shooter.

“We're working under the assumption that both events are related,” Gautier Police Det. Matthew Hoggatt told reporters.

Yahoo News called and sent a text message to a number believed to be Lamb's mobile phone. Neither message has been returned.

Hoggart said the vehicle Lamb was last seen driving in Gautier, a green SUV, had been located at Delta State. Later Monday, law enforcement officials said Lamb may now be driving a car belonging to Prentiss, who the suspect identifies as his girlfriend on his Facebook page.

Schmidt, who would have turned 40 later this month, had been married for nearly 17 years and has two young sons and a daughter, according to his Facebook page. He recently posted that he was planning to a celebration on Tuesday marking Delta State's 90th anniversary. That celebration has been postponed, the school said.

According to his bio on the Delta State website, Schmidt received his Ph.D. in Colonial America and Indigenous People in 2007. Prior to Delta State, Schmidt spent six years at at Texas Tech, where he was the recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011.

Before Schmidt was identified as the victim, friends of the slain professor posted heartbreaking messages on his Facebook page inquiring about this wellbeing.

"Watching CNN about events on your campus," one wrote. "Please let us know when you can!"

"Yes, please let us know if you are ok," wrote another. "Thoughts and prayers to you all at DSU."

Ethan Schmidt (Delta State University)
Ethan Schmidt (Delta State University)

Schmidt attended Emporia State University in Kansas with Yahoo News editor Everett Starling, and the two had remained friends.

Starling said Schmidt was very involved at Emporia State, including serving as student body president, and was very proud to be an ESU alumnus.

“He’s somebody that I never knew to ever have a quibble with anyone,” Starling said. “He’s one of the best people you will ever know.”

Starling added: “I’m stunned. He’s a great guy. Anyone connected to Emporia State feels the burden of Delta State's loss today. It's senseless.”

Following the shooting, school officials advised all students, faculty and staff to "stay inside and away from windows" while heavily-armed police swarmed the campus, located about 120 miles northwest of Jackson.


About 3,500 students are enrolled at the four-year public university, according to its website.

 

A video posted to YouTube appears to show Delta State students barricading themselves inside a classroom.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said his office was in contact with Delta State as ATF agents were en route to the school to assist in the search for the shooter.


Police were working to clear all buildings on campus Monday afternoon, the school said, and classes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were canceled.

Those on campus took to social media to update friends and loved ones on the lockdown.

Lamb, a former Mississippi high school teacher, announced on Facebook in July that he had finished his doctorate degree.

"I want to thank all of my colleagues, friends, and family who have supported me throughout this journey," he wrote. "I realize for many of you it must seem as if I simply dropped off the face of the earth for the past 18 months or so. I apologize for that, but please believe me when I say that I was doing the best I could do."

Lamb is also a musician and performed over Labor Day weekend at The Julep Room, a popular bar in Ocean Springs, Miss.

"It's been awhile, but he's back on the Coast & We got'm BACK!" the bar wrote about Lamb on its Facebook page.

 Jason Sickles is a national reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).

 

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