News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 21, 2014

THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs

TERRE HAUTE — Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.

“Get downstairs. There’s been a shooting in EE (the electrical engineering building),” they were told.

“My first reaction was, oh my gosh, this can’t be happening to us,” said Miller, a Purdue senior and 2009 graduate of Terre Haute South Vigo High School said Tuesday evening in a telephone interview.

The roommates hadn’t yet checked their phones to see a text alert Purdue sent out.

They joined others in the computer lab and went downstairs to a windowless, interior classroom, where they locked the door and then waited.

“About 30 or 35 of us were in there. The first five minutes was awkward and terribly quiet. You don’t know what is going on,” said Miller, a mechanical engineering major.

The students didn’t know if the shooter had been caught or whether the suspect might be headed to their classroom. “No one panicked, but everyone was cautious and uncomfortable,” Miller said.

Then, everyone got on their cells and began texting friends and family “or going on Twitter to see what was going on,” he said.

He texted his family right away to let them know he was okay. His dad is Tom Miller, associate vice president and dean of student affairs at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. His mom, Kim, is Rose-Hulman’s director of human resources.

One student used a cell to listen to a police scanner, but that only made the situation more frightening and confusing. At one point, it sounded as though three shooters were involved. “We thought, what the hell is going on,” Miller said.

After about 11⁄2 hours, the students received a university message informing them the engineering mall was clear and they were free to go about their business, except for the electrical engineering building, which had become a crime scene.

He went to his next class, although the professor let students out about halfway through. Then, students received an email from Purdue’s provost letting them know classes were canceled the rest of Tuesday and all day today.

Miller said he and a friend watched a news conference to learn details about what had happened. They heard that the victim was 21-year-old Andrew Boldt, a student and teaching assistant from Wisconsin.

Miller said it’s a situation he never thought would affect him personally. “It was an experience I don’t ever want to have again,” he said.

Whatever the motive, “There’s no reason to take the life of a 21-year-old,” he said.

His father, Tom Miller, said that when he first learned of the shooting at Purdue, and that it happened in the engineering program, “My heart dropped.”

Fortunately, when he looked at his cell phone, he had the text message from Kris.

Tom Miller asked his son to call him. “I wanted to hear his voice,” he said. When Kris called, “That assured us he was okay.”

They talked frequently during the ordeal.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

 

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