GBI investigates fatal shooting of student on SSU campus

SSU student shot and killed on campus
Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)
Chris Starks (Source: WTOC)
SSU prepares for news conference at noon to address fatal shooting.
SSU prepares for news conference at noon to address fatal shooting.

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The shooting that put the Savannah State University campus on lockdown Thursday night has now turned fatal.

Officials say 22-year-old Christopher Starks was shot at the Student Union shortly before 10 p.m. He was taken to Memorial University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Starks was a junior at SSU from the metro Atlanta area. Atlanta media sources say Starks was a standout athlete from Miller Grove High School in Lithonia.

The GBI says preliminary information indicates Starks was reportedly involved in an altercation inside the Student Union where he was shot. They say the shooting appears to be an isolated incident.

The campus was put on lockdown for several hours as police investigated the shooting. The lockdown has since been lifted at the school.

From this point on, anyone who enters the campus will have to present a government issued ID or university photo ID. That also applies to pedestrians.

To help with easy identification, the university is asking students, faculty and staff to keep their university ID's visible.

There will also be more public safety personnel at the King-Frazier Student Center and Student Union.

Savannah State University released the following statement regarding the incident:

It is with great sadness that we report the loss of a Savannah State University student.

Mr. Christopher Starks, a junior from the metro Atlanta area, died at a local hospital. Mr. Starks was transported to the hospital for treatment of gunshot injuries he sustained during an altercation at the SSU Student Union building Thursday evening. Mr. Starks was the only individual transported to a medical facility following the incident. So far, no arrests have been made. Because the university is a state institution, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is handling the ongoing investigation with assistance from the SSU Police Department.

On Friday, Aug.28, classes will be delayed until 10 a.m. Grief counselors will be available on campus.

The safety of those who live, study, work and visit Savannah State University remains a top priority – no exceptions. Savannah State University has zero tolerance for violence of any kind. If students are aware of the presence of weapons, please think and act responsibly to disclose such information to a member of the faculty, staff or administration, or other figure of authority. While it may be natural to want to protect an associate, the lack of disclosure may do more harm than good in the long run. Therefore, anyone with information about the incident should contact the SSU Police Department at 912-358-3004.

Starks' former football coach, Damien Wimes, says Starks began his athletic career at Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, and was a standout player who encouraged others around him to do their best. The coach says he knew Starks from the time he was a 5-year-old ball boy at Southwest Dekalb High School, where his father coached, and Wimes was an assistant.

"He would always say, his biggest aspiration was not to let his father down," said Coach Wimes.

An autopsy will be performed by the GBI Medical Examiner's Office in Savannah.

The investigation is ongoing and the shooter has not yet been identified. Anyone with information is asked to call SSU Police at 912.358.3004 or the GBI Statesboro Office at 912.871.1121.

According to a post on the Savannah State University Instagram account, a prayer vigil will be held Friday at noon on campus at the Felix-Alexis Circle Unity Plot. The school asks that you come stand in solidarity with the SSU family as they all pay respects to their fallen Tiger. The group Savannah Lives Matter is also organizing a rally at 6 p.m. at the Savannah State Campus.

President Dozier will speak at 11:45 a.m. at Hill Hall.

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