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2 ND students shot outside Club 23

Karen Langley | Friday, August 24, 2007

Police are still searching for the man who shot and wounded two Notre Dame students early Tuesday outside the Club 23 bar on Notre Dame Avenue.

Seniors Matthew Collins and Mitchell Depree were shot around 1 a.m. Tuesday following a “harsh” conversation with the shooter, who returned several minutes later in an SUV and fired five shots at the students, said Capt. Phil Trent, a spokesperson for the South Bend Police Department.

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 Thursday he is “doing fine” and expected to make a full recovery. A bullet will remain permanently in his abdomen, however, since any procedure to remove it would be too risky, he said.

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 his mother, 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 shorthaired black male of average build wearing a clean, white T-shirt – then walked out of sight.

He reappeared moments later in the passenger seat of a black SUV as it drove up to the curb where the three seniors stood, then said, “Thanks for the ride, you [expletive] Notre Dame students,” Karen Collins said.

The man fired five shots. Two 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. Tuesday 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 Tuesday 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.

No charges had been filed as of Thursday, but police are making progress in the case as investigations continue, Trent said.

“This is quite an uncommon occurrence,” Trent said. “We do not believe in any way, shape or form that this was random.”

Seven South Bend Police cars responded to the scene, Trent said. Police do not know whether the suspected shooter was inside Club 23 before the shooting, he said.

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

Students are far more likely to be victims of property crime than violence, he said.

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

Chris Hine contributed reporting to this story.