KETR

UPDATE: Arrest Made in Campus Shooting Incident

Feb 3, 2020

Two women are dead and a child was wounded as a result of a shooting at a Texas A&M University-Commerce dormitory Monday morning. 

UPDATE: A Tuesday afternoon alert from the University Police Department at A&M-Commerce indicated that a suspect had been arrested on the charge of capital murder in connection with the shootings that occured on the campus this week.

According to the text of the alert, the suspect is 21-year-old Jacques Dshawn Smith. Smith is not a student at A&M-Commerce. He is believed to the be ex-boyfriend of Abbaney Metts, who was one of the shooting victims.

An arrest warrant was obtained through the use of surveillance and witness tips.

A&M-Commerce University Police Department led the investigation with the help of the Texas Rangers, FBI, DPS, ATF, Mesquite Police Department, Commerce Police Department, Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and Hunt County Homeland Security.

Previous story follows:

On Tuesday, a statement from the university identified the victims as Deja Matts, 19, of Garland, and Abbaney Matts, 20. Deja Matts was a freshman at A&M-Commerce pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health, the statement said. Deja and Abbaney were sisters, officials said. The third victim, the two-year-old son of Abbaney Matts, was treated at an area hospital and released to the care of family members, they said. 

Deja Matts, 19-year-old freshman at A&M-Commerce, was shot to death at Pride Rock Residence Hall on Feb. 3.
Credit Facebook

University police described the shooting as "a targeted, isolated event."

"This remains an active investigation with multiple law enforcement agencies assisting," the statement said. "We will continue to provide updates as they become available." 

Police have not answered inquiries about whether a suspect in the killings is being sought. 

Police said that at 10:17 a.m. on Monday, a student called from Pride Rock Residence Hall, a freshman dorm located on the southwest side of campus. At 11:27 a.m., a university alert advised students, faculty and staff to “shelter in place” because of an active police investigation at Pride Rock. At 11:43 a.m., a second notice announced that Monday’s classes had been cancelled and repeated the call to shelter in place, with a suggestion that students without a place to go could go to the Sam Rayburn Student Center. At 12:51 p.m., a third notice stated that three gunshot victims had been found and two of them were dead. At 1:25 p.m., a fourth notice said that the shelter-in-place recommendation had been lifted.

Abbaney Matts, another victim of the shooting on Monday in Commerce.
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University president Dr. Mark Rudin and Vaughn addressed the media at a 3:30 p.m. Monday press conference held on University Drive near the campus main entrance. At 4:02 p.m., the university announced that Tuesday and Wednesday classes had been cancelled, but that university offices and services would continue to operate on a normal schedule.

Pride Rock Residence Hall was re-opened at 10:15 p.m. Monday night.

"Since this is an active investigation multiple law enforcement agencies are still conducting, we cannot speak further to the specific circumstances surrounding this isolated incident at this time," Rudin said in a statement sent out by email at 10:03 p.m. Monday. "We assure you that we are taking measures to ensure your continued safety on campus and to provide services and support to you all."

The statement also mentioned that university police patrols have been increased and the university's Counseling Center has expanded its services being offered. Professional counselors are available in the Halladay Student Services Building on campus or by telephone at (903) 886-5145.

The incident follows a late October shooting in nearby Greenville at a party attended by many students from the university. Two Dallas men were killed and a dozen others, half of whom were A&M-Commerce students, were wounded by an unknown gunman at a private party rental facility just west of the Greenville city limits. Texas A&M-Commerce student Jack Simonek said Monday’s news reminded many of last semester’s shooting.

“I think people were taking it very serious from the very first email because… because of the Greenville incident. That’s still in our minds. People are still grieving for that. So when that first email came out, that was probably their first thought.”

Police have not specified what type of gun was used in the shootings. The university does allow handguns in residence halls. University policy says that students wanting to store a handgun in a dorm must provide a safe to which only they have access. The policy is compliant with the state’s Concealed Campus Carry law, which went into effect in 2016. 

This is a developing story and is being updated as new information becomes available.