Local students, relatives react to NAU tragedy - Tucson News Now

Local students, relatives react to NAU tragedy

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Located 250 miles south of Flagstaff or about a four-hour drive, Tucson-area students and relatives are shaken by the Northern Arizona University shooting that killed one student and wounded three others.

"Kyle Zientek, he went to Mountain Ridge High School," UA sophomore Dillon Willette said of one of the injured students. "We were like pretty good friends in high school. My mom texted me this morning that he got shot."

"I also have friends who were in the dorm," said UA sophomore Rikki Silver, referring to the Greek Life residence hall where the initial fight started Friday morning at NAU. "So it's just scary how any of them could've been part of it."

"I have two daughters at Northern Arizona University," said Tucson resident Lenn Ditmanson. "I wanted to drive up there the moment I heard."

As one of the darkest days in NAU history was unfolding, Ditmanson was beside himself after learning what happened outside his daughter's window on campus.

"She's in the Greek Life dorm Mountain View and the PA system announced that there was a lockdown and that students should lock their doors and stay down low," Ditmanson said. "So she got in her closet and spent...from 1:30 to 4:30 in the morning in the closet."

Just outside the dorm in the parking lot is where police said 18-year-old Steven Jones allegedly opened fire on four Delta Chi fraternity members after some kind of altercation.

"Crazy things go on at parties, people get into fights, altercations," Willette said. "I guess it got too far and he felt the need to pull out a gun and shoot people up."

From the suspect's social media pages, Tucson News Now has learned Jones was home-schooled before becoming an NAU freshman this fall.

Several photos show the young man posing for selfies, usually without other people and oftentimes holding a gun.

"Like you don't even know if somebody could have a gun when you're at a party," Willette said, shaking his head. "They can just pull it out whenever they want is so scary."

Ditmanson said it's traumatic for young people to have to go through such events. 

"It will scar them for life," he said.

The concerned father is also a doctor who specializes in mental health and substance abuse.

It is not known if drugs or alcohol played a role in the shooting, but when Ditmanson was shown several pictures of the suspect showcasing his guns on Instagram, this is what he had to say.

"A culture of violence and potential violence that's casual now, it's a casual thing that we accept and see and bear witness to," he said, scanning at least four photos. "Violence on a regular basis, and it's not acceptable."

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