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posted: 2/20/2010 12:01 AM

NIU student describes being shot; suburban native charged

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  • NIU President John Peters indicates that there was one victim involved  in the Friday morning campus shooting.

      NIU President John Peters indicates that there was one victim involved in the Friday morning campus shooting.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

The 24-year-old Pingree Grove man who was shot by a fellow Northern Illinois University student was in stable condition and good spirits at a Rockford hospital Friday as he described the minutes leading up the early morning assault.

"I feel fine, but I've got a hole in my leg next to my femur and all the muscles around it are shot," Brian Mulder said from his hospital bed.

The student who shot him, 22-year-old Zach Isaacman, is in police custody and has been charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon, DeKalb County Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman said. He was expected to arrive at DeKalb County jail late Friday night.

Isaacman hails from the Northwest suburbs. As an NIU student, he lives off campus.

Mulder said he was sitting outside his campus dorm, Stevenson North, around 3:30 a.m. Friday when he saw a man walking behind a woman, "kind of like he was stalking her."

After the woman walked into the Stevenson North building, Mulder said, the man began banging on the dorm's windows and doors trying to get residents to let him in.

Mulder said after he told the man to "go home. Cut through the lagoon and go home," the man pulled out a gun.

"I asked him what he planned on doing with the gun, and before he answered he shot me."

Mulder was taken by paramedics first to Kishwaukee Community Hospital in DeKalb and later transferred to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford. He said he is in "totally stable" condition and expects to be released tomorrow.

At a 9:45 a.m. news conference Friday, NIU President John Peters said the shooting was an isolated incident.

Students, including friends of the victim, said they don't perceive NIU to be an unsafe campus, even though it is the second shooting in a little more than two years.

Kevin Anderson, a freshman from Hoffman Estates, said he and Mulder were standing near the front steps of the dormitory smoking cigarettes before the incident. "It's nothing I would ever want to see again," he said of the shooting.

Anderson ran to the lobby windows, trying to alert security and get in the building. Students have to use an electronic pass to open the door.

A NIU police officer stationed at Stevenson North responded immediately to the incident, Peters said. Isaacman, who ran toward a lagoon near the dorm, was apprehended five minutes later.

A text alert about the shooting and lockdown of the campus was sent to 12,000 subscribers at 3:48 a.m., and posted on the university's Web site. The lockdown was lifted about an hour later.

"Unfortunately, we have learned how to do this from our previous experience," Peters said, referring to the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting at Cole Hall in which a gunman killed five students and injured 19 before taking his own life.

"Violence continues to plague college campuses and society across this country. It is important we continue to be vigilant in providing a safe learning environment for our students and faculty."

Christina Aguilera, 20, of Mount Prospect, said, "We were actually surprised" the school decided to go ahead with classes. "I feel (classes should have been canceled) especially because of the students who were here for the first shooting."

"It is such a sensitive situation," Gannon said.

Abel Campos of Hoffman Estates, a Harper College student and guest of Anderson's staying in the dorm Thursday night, said the shooting didn't scare him off. "I'm still going to come here," he said.

Matt Bruns, 19, a freshman from Lemont, sensed the feeling on campus Friday might've been a bit uneasy, but there was no panic among the students.

"Everyone has 2-14 (the 2008 date of the Cole Hall shootings) on their mind, so they were a little tense (after Friday's shooting)," he said.

Bruns said that despite the shooting two years ago and the one Friday, there is no cause for alarm. "I'm a Northern Ambassador. I'm part of the group that gives campus tours to incoming freshmen and transfer students. One of the big things we touch on during the tours is campus security, so I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about it.

"NIU has something like 65 state- and EMS-trained police officers. We have canine units. Each dorm has its own police substation. I think security here is really good. ... Northern is a safe campus."

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