A mentally disturbed Anthony Powell shot and killed a classmate, Asia McGowen, before turning the gun on himself in a classroom at Detroit’s Henry Ford Community College on Good Friday.
The bodies and a sawed-off shotgun were found in a empty classroom. Police do not believe anyone was in the room at the time of the shooting. Initially the local authorities were dispatched over a reported assault and shortly after shots were fired, reports The Detroit News. Lieutenant William Leavens of the Dearborn Police Department was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene in the Grant McKenzie Fine Arts building. He was just 30 feet away from the classroom when he heard the final shot that killed Powell.
“We were going as quickly as we could, but by that time it was too late for her,” Leavens said. “He had done what he was going to do before anybody had a chance to respond.” According to the Associated Press, Henry Ford’s vice president, Marjorie Swan confirmed the 17,000 students of the commuter school were alerted through e-mail and text messages and the campus was locked down. “Nothing like this has ever occurred on campus,” Swan said. Christian Plonka, 12, who attends a theater program in the building, said he heard “one gunshot, and I saw someone getting pulled back into the room they were in.” McGowen and Powell were in the same theater course earlier that day and had taken part in a play together but the relationship between them is still unclear. “There is no evidence of a dating relationship,” Leavens said.
Powell, 28, was locally notorious and often criticized for his posted videos on YouTube that degraded black women and religious groups. Powell’s parents said their son was mentally ill and suffered through bouts of deep depression and tried to get him help. Asia’s father, Turahn McGowan, said his daughter was “beautiful, an aspiring actress and dancer” who was planning to audition for the Fox television competition “So You Think You Can Dance.” McGowan’s funeral has been scheduled for April 17 while funeral arrangements for Powell have not been disclosed.
“Our hearts go out to the family and the friends of the young woman who lost her life today,” Swan said.