Police seek suspect in Mississippi slayings 300 miles apart

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Professor Killed in Campus Shooting at Mississippi University

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) -- A college instructor suspected in the fatal shootings of a woman he lived with on Mississippi's Gulf Coast and a professor at Delta State University 300 miles away was still at large late Monday, but at some point was in contact with police and told them he's "not going to jail," authorities said.

During the first hours of the police search for suspect Shannon Lamb, terrified students and teachers hunkered down in classrooms for hours. The Delta State campus was put on lockdown as armed officers methodically went through buildings, checking in closets, behind doors and under tables and desks. The lockdown was lifted hours later, but security remained tight.

Investigators said Lamb, 45, is a suspect in the slayings of 41-year-old Amy Prentiss, who was found dead in the home she shared with Lamb in Gautier; and 39-year-old Ethan Schmidt, a history professor who was killed in his own office on campus in Cleveland, Mississippi.

More updates from the scene:

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Shooting at Delta State University, Mississippi
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Police seek suspect in Mississippi slayings 300 miles apart
Students, faculty, staff and members of the community gather on the Delta State University campus in Cleveland, Miss., Tuesday night, Sept. 15, 2015 to pay tribute to history professor Ethan Schmidt who was killed in his office Monday morning by another instructor. Police say Shannon Lamb, an instructor at the same school, killed Schmidt. Lamb later died in Greenville of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Liz Schmidt, widow of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt, center, who was murdered by a colleague in his office Monday, is comforted by friends, Jenn Westmoreland, left, and Amy Cotrell, during a candlelight memorial in his honor on the Cleveland, Miss., campus, Tuesday night, Sept. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Delta State University professor Charles Westmoreland, a friend and colleague of murdered history professor Ethan Schmidt, pays tribute to him during a ceremony at the Cleveland, Miss., school Tuesday night, Sept. 15, 2015. Schmidt was killed in his office Monday morning by another instructor. Police say Shannon Lamb, an instructor at the same school, killed Schmidt. Lamb later died in Greenville of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Liz Schmidt, widow of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt, who was murdered by a colleague in his office Monday, left, is comforted by friends, Jenn Westmoreland, center and Amy Cotrell, prior to a candlelight memorial in his honor on the Cleveland, Miss., campus, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
This undated photo provided by Delta State University shows history professor Ethan Schmidt, who was killed Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. A college instructor suspected in the fatal killing of Schmidt was still at large late Monday. (Rory Doyle/Delta State University via AP) 
Investigators are searching for Shannon Lamb, displayed in a digital photograph released by the MississippiDepartment of Public Safety investigators to members of the media and held by a reporter, who they now consider a suspect in the death of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, at the Cleveland, Miss., campus. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Law enforcement walk across the Delta State University campus to search for an active shooter in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. The suspect in the shooting has not yet been identified and remains at large. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
This photo provided by Gautier, Miss., police at a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, shows a hand-written note investigators found at the house where Amy Prentiss's body was found on Monday. Delta State University professor, Shannon Lamb, is accused of killing Prentiss, his girlfriend and a colleague, fellow Delta State professor Ethan Schmidt. Authorities say Lamb took his own life Monday night as police closed in on him in the aftermath of the killings. (Gautier, Miss Police via AP)
Law enforcement officers gather on the Delta State University campus to search for an active shooter in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. The authorities are looking for a another school employee in connection with the killing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Cleveland Police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham speaks about the search for Shannon Lamb who is considered a suspect in the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Suspected gunman in Delta State University shooting found dead http://t.co/t5AnnODy2e http://t.co/pkxRpQF3Mw
Delta State University president William LaForge speaks to reporters about the continued need for a campus lockdown while an investigation continues for a university employee wanted for the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at the Cleveland, Miss., school, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Delta State University students listen as president William LaForge speaks to them in the school's coliseum about the presence of lawmen and the need for lockdown as an investigation continues for an active shooter wanted in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at the Cleveland, Miss., school, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Delta State University president William LaForge speaks to students in the school's coliseum about the presence of lawmen and the need for lockdown as an investigation continues for an active shooter wanted in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at the Cleveland, Miss., school, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Delta State University students cross state Highway 8 under police escort to go to their dorms as the Cleveland, Miss., school remains under lockdown following the campus shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office in Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. The highway runs through the northern part of the campus. Law enforcement continue to search for a another school employee in connection with the killing and the campus remained on lockdown in the afternoon. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A law enforcement officer walks across the Delta State University campus during a lockdown of the campus in connection with the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Law enforcement officers gather on the Delta State University campus to search for an active shooter in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. The authorities are looking for a another school employee in connection with the killing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Law enforcement walk across the Delta State University campus to search for an active shooter in connection with a the shooting of history professor Ethan Schmidt in his office at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Law enforcement are looking for a another school employee in connection with the killing. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
An environmental cleanup crew works in the office of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt in Cleveland, Miss., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Police say Shannon Lamb, an instructor at the same school, killed Schmidt in his office Monday morning. Lamb later died in Greenville of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
An environmental cleanup crew works in the office of Delta State University history professor Ethan Schmidt in Cleveland, Miss., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Police say Shannon Lamb, an instructor at the same school, killed Schmidt in his office Monday morning. Lamb later died in Greenville of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A law enforcement officer stands watch as emergency vehicles clog a road adjacent to Delta State University after an active shooter was reported in Cleveland, Miss., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. A school official says one person has died following a shooting at Delta State University, and the campus remains on lockdown after reports of anactive shooter. (Courtney Warren/The Bolivar Commercial, via AP)

Prayers for students, faculty, and staff at Delta State University. Thanks to law enforcement.
BREAKING NEWS: Delta State University reports 'active shooter' on campus http://t.co/U65T0AOTk0
Pray for Delta State University. Campus remains in lockdown; active shooter leaves one professor dead. http://t.co/86ySFMdqGq
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Officers in the two cities said they had not uncovered a motive for either slaying.

Cleveland Police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham said Lamb was considered armed and dangerous but was not believed to be on campus as of Monday evening, hours after Schmidt was slain.

Gautier Police Lt. Scott Wilson and another officer whose name was not given said during a news conference Monday in Gautier said they had spoken with Lamb.

In the news conference broadcast on WLOX-TV, the unidentified officer said anyone coming into contact with Lamb should use extreme caution because police had spoken to the suspect and "he's made the statement that he's not going to jail."

He would not say when or how police spoke to Lamb.

Lamb received a doctorate in education from Delta State University in the spring of 2015, according to his resume posted on the university's website. He started working there in 2009 and taught geography and education classes, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, according to the resume.

Delta State President Bill LaForge said Lamb was teaching two online classes this semester.

Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Johnny Poulos said investigators were searching for a black 2011 Dodge Avenger that they believe Lamb was driving.

The 3,500-student university in Cleveland is in Mississippi's flat, agricultural region near the Arkansas state line. It was first put on lockdown mid-morning amid reports of an active shooter. Everyone on campus was told to take shelter, away from windows.

Charlie King was in a history class down the hall from where the shooting occurred.

"A few minutes into the class, we heard these popping noises and we all went completely silent," he said.

Some people thought that it might be a desk or door closing or firecrackers, but King said he thought it sounded like gunshots. A few minutes later a police officer - gun drawn - burst into the windowless room and ordered everyone to get against the wall away from the door. Some people also hid in a storage closet, King said. The officer didn't explain what was going on, but King said the students understood.

"We put two and two together," he said. The professor gave the students chairs to throw if the shooter came in, said King's friend, Christopher Walker Todd.

Eventually police ushered the students into another building and questioned them about what they'd seen and how many shots they heard.

Freshman Noah Joyner, 18, was in his dorm building when reports of an active shooter began to spread. He hunkered down in a bathroom and heard others desperate to get in.

"There were like people banging on the doors to have somebody let them in," said Joyner, a swimmer at the college. "It was pretty terrifying."

Charly Abraham was teaching a class of about 28 students at the university's Delta Music Institute when he and the students received a message through the university's alert system.

"Everybody's phone just sort of went off at the same time," Abraham said. Then a staff member came in and told them that the campus was on lockdown.

"We discovered it was something very serious when we started getting text messages from people all over the world," he said.

Eventually, about two hours or so after the initial lockdown, about 25 heavily armed police officers swept through the building, Abraham said. All of the students were sent back to their dorms and other people such as faculty and students who live off campus were sent to the university's coliseum, Abraham said, though most were later allowed to leave.

The slain professor directed the first-year seminar program and specialized in Native American and colonial history, said Don Allan Mitchell, an English professor at the school, who called him "a gentleman in every sense of the word."

"Dr. Ethan Schmidt was a terrific family man, a good friend, a true son of Peabody, Kansas, and his beloved Emporia State University," he said.

One of his history professors at Emporia State University described him as one of the "brightest students" she'd ever taught.

"He was a super competent human being. He was president of his fraternity, in student government. He was an absolutely delightful student," said Karen Manners Smith.

King, one of the students in Jobe Hall when the shooting happened, attended the same Episcopal church as Schmidt. King was studying history, and Schmidt was his adviser.

"I looked up to the man," King said.

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Emily Wagster Pettus reported from Jackson. Associated Press writers Kevin McGill in Gautier, Mississippi; Rebecca Santana in New Orleans; Alina Hartounian in Phoenix and Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas, contributed to this report.

Watch more coverage below:

Report: Professor Shot, Killed at Delta State Univ.

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