A shooting incident at Florida State University’s recently constructed Greek Park has left one dead, one wounded and a third under arrest, KnightNews.com has learned.
The FSU student who lost her life in the apparent accidental shooting, Ashley Cowie, was a member of Chi Omega sorority and a former homecoming queen of her high school, St. Country Day School near Jacksonville, according to the Florida Times-Union. She was 21.
Many UCF students grew up in the Jacksonville area and call it home. UCF freshman Sam Whitman shared why the Knights who knew Cowie will miss her.
“I went to high school with Ashley she was a beautiful girl who had a smile and a laugh the could brighten up anyone’s day,” Whitman said. “Her sense of humor and good attitude were contagious and unique.”
According to an FSU press release, police were called to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house at 1:16 a.m. Sunday to respond to an accidental shooting report. The fraternity house is located in Heritage Grove, a subdivision of FSU affiliated Greek housing off campus.
Much like how UCF police patrol the off campus Pegasus Landing apartments, FSU police are contracted to patrol the Heritage Grove Greek Housing. When FSU police arrived, they secured the area and determined there was no further threat to the campus community, according to the release.
FSU police quickly identified the shooter as Evan Wilhelm, according to the release, posted by WCTV. Wilhelm, a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, was in his fraternity house apartment allegedly showing off his new rifle accessories to his friends when the release stated it accidentally went off.
That’s when Ashley Cowie, 21, was fatally shot in the chest and Keith Savino was struck in the wrist, according to the release. Savino’s injuries are not life-threatening.
Cowie was a sophomore from the Jacksonville suburb of Orange Park and majoring in interior design. Savino, also 21, is a junior from Tampa. He’s majoring in risk management/insurance, and was treated for his wound at a Tallahassee hospital.
The owner of the rifle, Wilhelm, 20, was not injured when the shots rang out. Even though the shooting was reported as accidental, Wilhelm was arrested early Sunday and booked into the Leon County Jail on manslaughter charges, the release stated.
The investigation is ongoing, and the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper is now reporting Wilhelm may have been drinking earlier in the day, before the shooting.
FSU Dean of Students Jeanine Ward-Roof expressed grief for the loss, and pledged to make counseling services available to those who need it.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts and prayers are with the students’ families at this terrible time,” Ward-Roof said in the release. “We strive throughout the year to educate students on how to protect themselves and others, and we are heartsick when incidents such as this occur.”
Firearms are not allowed on public university campuses in Florida. But because the fraternities’ buildings at Heritage Grove are private properties, there was no law against having a weapon there.
According to the FSU release, university officials pledged to review the situation and to continue to urge students to be mindful of rules and crime prevention information designed to protect them and their fellow students.