It was the wrong place and the wrong time for three Alabama A&M University students who are among the seven college-age people shot during a house party in Panama City Beach early Saturday morning, March 28, 2015.
“As a father of a daughter, the young ladies seemed to be doing what I’d want my daughter to do — stick closely with your friends and don’t get separated,” said A&M spokesman Jerome St. Jones as he released the official university statement. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough.”
A&M officials issued this statement on behalf of the university Saturday afternoon:
“Alabama A&M University administrative and law enforcement officials have reviewed reports related to the March 28 shooting of seven individuals on spring break in the vicinity of Panama City Beach, Fla. Of the seven, AAMU officials have confirmed that three of the victims, all female, are AAMU students.
“The AAMU students are: Kearria Freed, 20, who remains hospitalized in critical condition; Kelli Regina Curry, 20, who is listed in stable condition; and Annesia Powell, 19, who is currently undergoing surgery.
“The shooter, 22-year-old David Jamichael Daniels of Mobile, Ala., has been arrested by the Panama City Beach Sheriff’s Office. The suspect is not an AAMU student.
“AAMU’s Lt. William Schumake noted that a Bay County investigator stated that the AAMU students were “innocent victims in the wrong place when an altercation broke out resulting in shots being fired.”
“The University is mobilizing its counseling services for students or personnel who might be traumatized by the incident and has dispatched campus personnel to Mobile, Ala. Meanwhile, the campus is issuing a call for prayers for the victims’ speedy recovery. Updates will be forthcoming as they become available.”
It’s his worst fear come true, said Pastor Troy Garner of Fellowship of Faith Church in Huntsville, Ala. Garner is a longtime volunteer coach for A&M student-athletes. The three A&M students who got in the line of fire are not among his athletes, he said, but during spring break, he always worries about the students.
“You worry about them like a father,” Garner said Saturday as he fielded calls about the incident. “Before they leave, you ask them, ‘Where are you going? Who are you going to be with?’ You give that spring break spiel: ‘Have fun, but avoid trouble. Use your wisdom when you go away.'”
But it’s hard to impress much on young minds when they are headed off to an adventure away from parents and school, Garner said. And it’s impossible to keep them untouched by someone else’s disastrous actions, as appears to be the case in this instance.
Garner said that he will be leading prayers for the students during services on Sunday.
“This was the tail end of spring break,” Garner said, noting that most students will not return to campus until Sunday afternoon. “This trouble happened right at the end.”