Colorado Springs Police arrested a man Monday morning following a four-hour armed-standoff blocks from campus during which the suspect allegedly discharged a firearm twice at a police robot before being subdued by a K-9 unit.
Officers took William Christopher White, 31, into custody after he repeatedly exited a residence at 803 N. Wahsatch Ave. and discharged a firearm in the direction of downtown over a period of several hours, frightening neighbors nearby who called police around 8:30 a.m.
White has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and is being held at the El Paso County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Some witnesses told The Catalyst that White was yelling and firing the gun sporadically from about 4 a.m. until just before 9 a.m. when local police arrived on scene.
“The Colorado Springs Police Department reports that an individual is contained inside a house on Wahsatch near Dale after firing shots,” Campus Safety said in an all-campus email sent during the standoff Monday. “The man allegedly exited the house and fired a handgun, then went back inside, repeatedly. Officers have advised that people within a one-mile radius, which includes the Colorado College campus, should remain indoors. Please share this information with others in your building, and stay away from the area.”
A tactical enforcement unit, commonly known as SWAT, reached the scene around 9:30 a.m.
“While several attempts were made to establish a dialogue with the suspect, they proved unsuccessful,” police said in a news release. “While TEU (SWAT) was in position, the suspect allegedly fired several more shots from the residence, two of which struck our robot.”
Around 11:30 a.m. White exited the home wielding a firearm, at which point a K-9 unit made contact and subdued him. White was taken into custody, transported to the hospital for wounds suffered during the interaction with the K-9, and moved to the El Paso County Jail.
Officers set a perimeter in the area and patrolled the surrounding streets during the standoff, accompanied by Campus Safety units from CC who told a Catalyst reporter near the incident house to stay inside.
Many students who live off-campus missed classes because of the standoff.
“Officers at the scene reported the man has come out of his apartment and shot his weapon toward downtown talking about himself in the third person, so this is probably a mental health situation,” police spokeswoman Barbara Miller told The Gazette Monday.
Neighbors reported that they initially heard multiple gunshots around 7 a.m. and called police.
“I woke up to multiple gunshots, walked out and thought to myself, ‘I better get inside,’” said Doron Mitchell, a senior who lives nearby.
Police set roadblocks set near area intersections around Dale Street and Wahsatch Avenue and were giving White verbal commands.
Campus Safety sent out alerts to the college community via text, email, and phone call around 9 a.m., encouraging those nearby to stay inside and avoid the area before police later issued a voluntary lockdown of their own about an hour later.
Both Pat Cunningham, Director of Campus Safety, and Jason Newton, Campus Resource Officer, were on-scene at the standoff monitoring the situation.
CC created its all-campus alert system several years ago as a response to several shootings at schools across the country, including the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. College officials test the system periodically, but it hasn’t been used so extensively in a real-life scenario in recent memory.
Colorado Springs School District 11 tweeted around 9 a.m. that North Middle School, Community Prep, Palmer High School, Columbia Elementary, and Taylor Elementary were all on lockdown because of the police activity.
Those lockdowns were lifted before noon once White was taken into custody.