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NIU shooting victim: 'He pointed the gun at my face'

Published: Friday, Feb. 19, 2010 6:24 a.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 5:04 p.m. CST
Caption
Zachary R. Isaacman

DeKALB – Brian Mulder didn’t expect to be shot while standing outside of his residence hall early Friday morning.

Mulder, 24, of Marengo was shot at 3:29 a.m. Friday in the right leg by another student while standing outside Stevenson North residence hall towers at Northern Illinois University.

“What happened was ... I was trying to deter a resident from trying to enter a hall that he didn’t live in,” Mulder said Friday night during a phone interview from his room at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.

“He lived off campus and next thing you know, I asked him kindly to leave the dorm, he pointed the gun at my face, I slapped it down and he shot me in the leg.”

Buffalo Grove resident Zachary R. Isaacman, 22, was arrested five minutes after the shooting by NIU Police.

Isaacman has been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon, according to DeKalb County First Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Engerman.

Bond is expected to be set today for Isaacman, who was transferred from NIU to the DeKalb County Jail shortly after 10 p.m., Sheriff Roger Scott said.

The university also has issued Isaacman an immediate temporary sanction that essentially suspends him from NIU.

The NIU Department of Public Safety said Friday afternoon that the shooting was an “isolated event between two individuals that escalated into an unfortunate incident,” according to a written statement on the university’s Web site.

Police were on the scene within a minute of the shooting, NIU President John Peters said Friday morning during a news conference. Isaacman fled on foot and was apprehended minutes later near the lagoon by Stevenson North by NIU Police, officials said.

DeKalb Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said his department was called at 3:31 a.m. and arrived within five minutes to the front of Stevenson North. Emergency personnel stabilized and transported the victim to Kishwaukee Community Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, he said.

“Fortunately for us, it wasn’t worse than what it was,” Harrison said. He also commended NIU for it’s response to the incident.

Mulder, who is studying business, said he was in stable condition and expected to be in the hospital until at least today.

“I’ll be all right, I think,” Mulder said. “I really can’t move my leg still, but they said, hopefully, that will come back. I guess they said they might release me [Saturday]. I never seen a hole in my leg before, so I don’t know how it’s going to heal up.”

NIU spokesman Brad Hoey said Chief Donald Grady was leading the investigation and that kept him from attending a Friday morning press conference. Grady’s office directed calls made later in the day seeking additional information from the chief to Hoey.

Sheriff Scott said four squad cars from the sheriff’s department assisted in the search for the suspect. DeKalb Police Lt. Gary Spangler said DeKalb Police were not called in to assist.

Peters said the gun involved in the shooting was recovered, but he did not have additional information about the caliber or make of the weapon. He said it was “safe to say” it was a handgun.

A motive for the shooting was not known Friday, university officials said. Peters did not know if alcohol was involved, and he did not know if it was gang related. Only one shot was believed to have been fired. Police interviewed one person who witnessed the shooting and five who heard it, NIU Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Hemphill said.

Campus briefly went into a lock-down mode after the shooting, but by 5:50 a.m. it had been lifted and classes went on as scheduled. Counseling was set up for students, officials said.

Friday morning’s shooting came five days after the school recognized the two-year anniversary of the campus shooting at Cole Hall on Feb. 14, 2008. Five students were killed and at least 19 others were injured before the lone gunman turned the gun on himself.

Without diminishing the seriousness of the shooting, NIU students Philip Ransom-Jones and Chris Pitelka said the whole situation may have been a bit overblown. They heard that it was basically an isolated incident and that police had the suspect in custody within five minutes.

“It’s a big deal that somebody shoots somebody, but you can look at it as just a fight between people,” said Ransom-Jones, a freshman who lives in Lincoln Hall.

While Ransom-Jones said he had previously signed up for NIU’s text alert system, he did not receive the text message sent out by the school shortly before 4 a.m. Friday. Still, he is glad to see the system in use.

“It shows you they’re trying to do something to address the issue, so it’s a good start,” he said.

Pitelka said that in future instances, he would like to see a text message sent earlier. By the time students were getting the message, he said, it seemed like everything already was over.

NIU freshmen Sarrah Morose, Paige Gayles and Jasmine Frazier had no real problems with NIU’s response to Friday morning’s shooting, but said they would like more in the way of security on campus, specifically at residence halls and parking lots.

“They should enforce the security more,” Morose said. “Anybody can get in and out of here.”

They said they wish the nighttime security standard for admittance to residence halls applied during the day also, and that there was more patrolling of residence hall parking lots. While they each supported NIU’s use of the text messaging alert system, none remember ever getting the chance to sign up for the system.

“I think they should sign everybody up for the text message system,” Gayles said.

Others, though, said Friday’s shooting brought back memories of the 2008 incident.

“It’s just sad that the gun violence here is just getting, you know, you hate to hear about another shooting,” senior Michael Hall said. “It’s absolutely terrible. I was on my way to class during the ‘08 one. That kind of chaos, no one wants to relive anything like that.”


• Daily Chronicle Interactive Editor Peter Schinkai contributed to this report.

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