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updated: 1/16/2013 6:38 PM

Two killed in shooting at Kentucky college

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  • Members of the Perry County Sheriff Office respond to the scene at Hazard Community College on Tuesday night.

    Members of the Perry County Sheriff Office respond to the scene at Hazard Community College on Tuesday night.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

HAZARD, Ky. -- A gunman enraged by a domestic dispute bought a gun and fatally shot his former girlfriend and her uncle and severely wounded a 12-year-old girl in the parking lot of a small southeastern Kentucky college, police said Wednesday.

The violence near the school Tuesday afternoon locked down the campus for more than an hour as police searched the two buildings of Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard. The campus was closed Wednesday and will reopen Thursday.

Hazard police Chief Minor Allen said Wednesday that Dalton Stidham, 21, was charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Allen said the shooting resulted from a dispute between Stidham and the woman who was killed, 20-year-old Caitlin Cornett.

Allen identified the male victim as Caitlin Cornett's uncle, Jackie Cornett, 53, and the wounded girl as his daughter. She was in critical condition at noon Wednesday at Kentucky Children's Hospital, said Julie Phillips, a hospital spokeswoman. Allen said the girl was shot multiple times.

Allen said the gun believed to have been used Tuesday was purchased the same day at a local pawn shop. A semiautomatic pistol was found at the scene.

Allen said Caitlin Cornett, who was a student at the college, and Stidham had a child together and had met to exchange custody of him.

Caitlin Cornett's sister, Brittany Cornett, told The Lexington Herald-Leader that Stidham and Caitlin Cornett had separated in October after a three-year relationship. Their son is 2 years old.

The boy was not injured in the shooting and was in the custody of social services workers, Brittany Cornett said.

College President Stephen Greiner said that at the time of the shooting, about 30 students were probably on campus. He said college staff responded quickly to the shooting, securing campus buildings to limit the impact.

"Our thoughts and sympathy are with the families of the victims of this tragedy," he said.

Caitlin Cornett was a student at the Hazard college in the 2010-11 school year and had recently signed up for a February course.

Caitlin and Jackie Cornett were already deceased when police arrived about 6 p.m., Allen said.

Conor Duff, the college's evening coordinator, said the outbreak of violence was startling.

"Everybody here's been pretty shook up," he said. "This is definitely something people around here are not used to. We have our fair share of problems, but normally this isn't one of them."

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