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Shooting victims in recovery

Karen Langley | Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Matt Collins, one of two Notre Dame seniors shot and wounded outside Club 23 Aug. 21, was released from St. Joseph Regional Medical Center Monday.

Collins has been moved to the University Health Services building, and doctors expect him to make a full recovery, though a bullet remains in his abdomen. Any procedure to remove it would be considered too risky, Collins said.

The other shooting victim, Mitchell Depree, was treated and released from the hospital Aug. 21.

Collins does not know how long he will remain at Health Services, but he hopes to attend this weekend’s opening football game against Georgia Tech, his mother, Karen Collins, said Tuesday.

Police are still searching for the shooter. Investigators are conducting ballistics tests on the bullets found at the scene but results will not be available for a few weeks, said Captain Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department.

Collins and Depree were shot around 1 a.m. Aug. 21 following a “harsh” conversation with the shooter, who returned several minutes later in an SUV and fired five shots at the students, Trent said.

The students were taken to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, where Depree was treated for a leg wound and then released, Trent said. The gunshot wounds Collins received to his abdomen and leg, however, were initially considered so life-threatening that he requested and received last rites.

Collins said the shooter – who neither he nor his friends had ever met – approached him, Depree and another Notre Dame senior in front of Club 23 while they were waiting for a ride, according to Karen Collins.

When the man asked the three students for a ride, they said no, Karen Collins said. The man – who police described as a short-haired black male of average build wearing a clean, white T-shirt – then walked out of sight. He returned moments later in the passenger seat of a black SUV as it drove up to the curb where the three seniors stood. He then said, “Thanks for the ride, you [expletive] Notre Dame students,” before firing five shots, Karen Collins said.

Two of the bullets hit Collins, and one hit Depree.

The car’s driver then drove northbound on Notre Dame Avenue, Trent said.

University officials were notified of the shooting before 2 a.m. Aug. 21 and became immediately involved, University spokesperson Dennis Brown said. Associate Vice President for Residence Life and Housing Bill Kirk visited Matthew Collins and Depree at the hospital later that morning, Brown said.

Both Matthew Collins and Depree said they intend to enroll for the fall semester, he said.

Karen Collins said the University “has been great” throughout the ordeal.

“(The shooting) is quite an uncommon occurrence,” Trent said last week. “We do not believe in any way, shape or form that this was random.”

Police do not know whether the suspected shooter was inside Club 23 before the shooting, Trent said.

“I would hope the student population wouldn’t let this scare them into not enjoying themselves or enjoying the community here,” he said.

He advised students to avoid actions which could put themselves at risk, such as walking alone at night.

Students are far more likely to be victims of property crime than violence, Trent said. Theft can often be averted by concealing electronics and other valuables inside a trunk or locked in a console, he said.

“[Leaving out] a backpack is as good as leaving an iPod or cell phone out,” he said. “A briefcase – you might as well leave the laptop out.”

Police have asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact the South Bend Police Department Investigative Division at (574) 235-9263.

Chris Hine contributed to this report.