Alleged Northern Arizona University Gunman Claims Self-Defense as Charges Are Downgraded to Second-Degree Murder
Steven Jones, 18, is accused of killing one student and injuring three others
Steven Jones, the 18-year-old freshman who allegedly opened fire on his fellow classmates at Northern Arizona University last week, killing one and injuring three, has said that he acted in self-defense.
Jones was arrested outside the Mountain View Hall dormitory on campus in the early hours of Oct. 9 following the shooting. Police said Jones claimed that he was punched and then chased to his car, where he retrieved his gun and opened fire to protect himself, striking Colin Brough, Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring. Brough died after being hit twice. The others are still recovering from their injuries.
But prosecutors have disputed Jones’ story, saying that the freshman could have walked away from the fight at any time and there was no need to grab a weapon, according to The Arizona Republic.
The fight started as a verbal confrontation, then turned physical, prosecutors said. That’s when “the defendant then ran to his car, retrieved his gun and then went back to the fight,” Coconino County Deputy Attorney Ammon Barker said in court last week.
Jones has been charged with second-degree murder and six counts of aggravated assault, NBC News reports. He originally faced a charge of first-degree murder.
Officials said earlier this week that there was no indication that the fight was a fraternity rivalry. All the victims were members of Delta Chi, while Jones was pledging Sigma Chi at the time of the shooting.
Jones has since been removed “from the chapter’s pledge program after his arrest,” Sigma Chi Executive Director Michael Church said. The chapter’s operations have also been suspended while the organization conducts “a thorough investigation into the incident.”
A witness told PEOPLE that Jones had been asked to leave a party hosted by the Delta Chi fraternity, and then allegedly came back with a gun and began firing.
Jones is being held on $2 million bail. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges against him.
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