Andrew Pawling was simply attending his second lab class of the semester when he heard “pop” sounds in his classroom just a few feet from behind where he was standing.
“As I was turning around I heard another pop, then I saw my (teaching assistant) fall to the floor. The guy got on top of him and then shot him in the face, once or twice and maybe two more times,” Pawling, a junior in the College of Engineering, said.
He witnessed Andrew Boldt, his teaching assistant for ECE 362, being killed “point blank” on Tuesday afternoon by an unrecognizable male who had entered the classroom through the one and only door. The suspect was not a student in the class that had about 10 to 15 students in it at the time, according to Pawling, and the shooter stood between many of the students and their only escape out.
“(Andrew) was obviously trying to stop him. I don’t think he really had any chance to really fight back much,” Pawling said. “I wish I could have helped him, but by the time I realized what was happening he already got shot in the face two times and there wasn’t really anything I could do.”
Pawling was close enough to the door that when he realized what was occurring, he made a run for it, and told others he saw on the way out of the building that shots had been fired.
“I didn’t (know) if he was just going to go after Andrew, or if he was going to shoot everybody in the class, I was just trying to get out of there,” Pawling said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be a mass killing ... After I thought about it, it was quite apparent that he was targeting Andrew.”
Being a part of Boldt’s class was not the first time Pawling had interactions with him. Boldt used to help him in his office hours when he was in ECE 270.
“(He was a) very nice, extremely helpful person. If he didn’t know the answer to whatever you were trying to figure out, he would figure it out with you,” Pawling recalled.
Pawling told a police officer after making it out of the building about the situation, and then made his way back to his apartment. Later he contacted the police and went in for questioning.
Another Purdue student experienced a different part of the tragedy. A graduate student studying electrical engineering who wants to be referred to by her last name, Liu, had interactions with the shooter moments after he killed Boldt.
Liu was walking down the sidewalk of Northwestern Avenue when she saw a male on his knees with his hands on his head on the sidewalk in front of the bus stop. She thought it was odd that this person wasn’t wearing a coat, and so she proceeded to approach him and ask him if he was OK.
“He said something like, ‘Stay away,’” Liu said. “I stood aside and waited for awhile and I noticed that there was blood on his hands (and) on the shoes. So I thought he was injured and waiting for some professional help ... Then I saw the police cars coming and I heard the sirens, and the police came and arrested him.”
Because of her confusion, Liu was surprised the shooter was being arrested.
“He looked so calm ... He kind of looked sad,” Liu said.
The only suspect in custody related to the shooting is Cody Cousins, a senior in the College of Engineering. Cousins has been booked in the Tippecanoe County Jail on the preliminary charges of murder.
Cousins will have his first court hearing today at 2 p.m. in Tippecanoe jail.