Three men, including the suspected shooter, have been arrested in connection with the Oct. 17 shooting at Rider University in Lawrenceville, in which two people were wounded.
The incident occurred on the balcony outside the Cavalla Room of the student center as a dance party sponsored by the Inter-Cultural Greek Council was ending.
The gunshots occurred after a fight between some partygoers broke up. However, Lawrence police are unsure if there is a connection between the argument and the shooting.
Rider student and basketball player Vesna Dzombic, 20, of Athens, Pa., was shot in the thigh, and Paul Hill, 20, of Winslow Township, a guest of a Rider student, was wounded in the foot. Both were shot as they ran from the gunman. The victims are expected to make full recoveries, police said. They were not involved in the fight prior to the shooting.
This is the third instance in a decade during which violence has erupted on Rider’s campus. In May, fights broke out at another dance sponsored by the council. Lawrenceville township called for assistance from Trenton and Ewing police to break up the fight, and five people were arrested.
In 1993, a 21-year-old Trenton man was shot and killed outside the student center after a party sponsored by another Greek fraternal group. Neither the victim nor the teen charged with the killing were Rider students.
In the most recent incident, the suspected shooter, Tarik J. Reid, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a friend of Rider student Danilo Williams, 21, also of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Reid was captured by police on Oct. 23 while apparently hiding at an unidentified relative’s home in Tobyhanna, Pa. Williams was also arrested for handling the gun.
Another Rider student, Nicketa Douglas, 20, of South Plainfield, was also arrested, and charged with giving police false information about the incident.
Dzombic, a sophomore, emigrated from Bosnia to Croatia with her parents and two siblings in 2000 in search of a better life. In the summer of 2001, her family came to the United States and settled in Akron, Ohio, then later moved to Athens, Pa.
After only a year of playing basketball at her high school, Rider recruited her and awarded her a scholarship. Dzombic was expected to return to classes last week after being released from the hospital.
Police believe that Reid’s gun was used in the shooting, but it has yet to be found.
No apparent motive for the shooting has been released, and police are still investigating the chain of events that led to the incident.
Reid has been charged with aggravated assault and two weapons possession violations. He is being held at the Monroe County corrections center in Snydersville, Pa., and awaits extradition to Mercer County, police said.
Rider officials have suspended Williams and Douglas from the university and barred them from campus. They may be expelled.
“We are terribly saddened by the events,” Anthony Campbell, Dean of Students for Rider University, said. “We are an academic institution and are not, unfortunately, isolated from the rest of the world.”
Campbell added, “Violence in the world is a fact of life and it does come to universities as well.”
Campbell said Rider’s policy is to be “an open community” and feels the incident was a “random act.”
He said, “The nature of their injuries indicates that they were not targets.”
Rider required all attendees of the event to sign-in and show ID upon entering. Despite these measures, students expressed uneasiness with the security on campus.
“Security has to be more tight,” said junior Lauren Guariglia, who attended the party. “Anybody can walk on this campus. There has to be something done. It could have been anyone.”
Sophomore Leroy Green was also at the gathering. He said at the end of the party, many of the approximately 100 people who attended the event went outside on the balcony. After five to ten minutes, he heard gunshots and everyone fled inside.
That’s when he saw two people fall down. “It’s a shame we can’t have a get-together without someone acting up,” he said.