HARRISON, N.Y.-- The gunman who forced Sunday night's lockdown of SUNY Purchase College was a non-student who got into a dispute with a student over a girl, eyewitnesses told Daily Voice.
Classes resumed Monday morning after the campus was declared safe late Sunday night, as reported here earlier.
The dust-up started at a dorm-sponsored barbecue block party, according to witnesses, when the girl’s unidentified boyfriend accosted the suspect for speaking “disrespectfully” to her.
The argument escalated into a shoving match. One of the hosts of the party, senior Josh Banks, said when he attempted to defuse the situation, the suspect, who called himself "Phil," lifted his shirt and brandished a handgun.
“Who trying to be put in a coffin,” the suspect said, according to Banks.
At that point, Banks said, he placed his hand on the gunman’s arm and asked him to leave.
The boyfriend then pushed the suspect, who fell to the ground. When the suspect stood, he was holding the gun at his side, Banks said. The boyfriend ran and the gunman took off after him.
A University Police officer, summoned by witnesses, confronted the suspect near a wooded area behind the dorm known as Alumni Village and ordered him to get down.
On a recording made by a student at the scene, the suspect can be heard shouting: “I don’t have no gun, I don’t have gun.”
The suspect ran into the woods and disappeared.
The suspect was said to have been participating in the BBQ all day, asking students if “they had weed” and taking photographs.
A search involving a Westchester County Police aviation unit, Harrison patrol officers and other neighboring police departments continued early Monday.
Westchester County and Harrison Police referred questions to University Police, who have not released many details. There have been no arrests.
Return to Daily Voice for updates.
Christian Arango is a member of the Purchase College Community Reporting Team.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.