LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — District of Columbia police were searching for suspects Friday in the killing of a Howard University student who was shot during a robbery attempt.
The shooting occurred just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday on Fairmont Street, near the campus in northwest Washington.
Police say 22-year-old Omar Sykes, of Washington, was walking with another student when they were approached by two armed men. One of the men pulled out a gun and shot Sykes, police said. The other student was beaten, but his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
“At this time, we believe it was a random encounter. We do not have any information that they were known to the suspects,” Acting Capt. Robert Alder of the police department’s homicide unit told reporters Friday.
He wouldn’t say how many shots were fired, or whether both suspects fired shots, but he said detectives were gathering surveillance video from the area for clues.
Howard University has identified Sykes as a junior marketing major and a member of the Alpha Phi Omega international service fraternity. Members of the fraternity were holding a candlelight vigil Friday evening on the campus, and counseling and support services are being made available to students.
Howard president Sidney A. Ribeau said in a letter to the university community that Sykes was an “advocate for social justice” who last month wrote a blog post about Trayvon Martin’s death.
“Unfortunately, senseless acts of violence are too common place in communities around the nation and we must do more to ensure that promising young men and women have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We extend our condolences to the Sykes family, friends and those who knew him well,” Ribeau wrote.
Howard University issued the following statement:
We are deeply saddened by the passing of one our students in an off-campus incident. A second student was injured and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries. To respect the privacy of the families and to preserve the integrity of this ongoing police investigation, we are unable to share additional information at this time. Howard University Police Department is cooperating with the Metropolitan Police Department to thoroughly investigate this regrettable incident. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to members of the immediate and the campus family. Counseling and support services are available on a 24-hour basis for students who need assistance during this difficult time.
D.C. Police are currently offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the suspect/s responsible for Sykes’ death.
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