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Student, woman found gunned down in university dorm in Colorado identified

Student, woman found gunned down in university dorm in Colorado identified

Two people found fatally shot in a Colorado university dorm room were identified Sunday as investigators continued to search for a killer most likely known to the victims, police said.

Police identified Samuel Knopp, 24, of Parker, about 60 miles north of the campus, as a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he was found dead Friday.

Also found dead in the Crestone House residence was Celie Rain Montgomery of Pueblo, about 45 miles south of campus, Colorado Springs police said. She was not a student at the university, the police department said in a statement.

Police cited an El Paso County coroner’s office autopsy for the identities but said the exact cause and manner of death were still forthcoming.

In the meantime, police said, the deaths were being investigated as a homicide case with a killer who may have been known to the pair.

“Investigative efforts so far continue to indicate this is an isolated incident between parties that were known to one another and not a random attack against the school or other students at the university,” police said in their statement.

Shortly after the campus was made aware of the violence, Amy Elswick Knopp, mother of Samuel Knopp, decried the shooting on her Facebook page. In a Friday post with a 7:46 a.m. timestamp, apparently before she was informed her son was a victim, Knopp blamed the attack on a lack of stricter firearm regulations.

“This hits way too close to home and it makes me want to vomit,” she said. “All the ‘thoughts and prayers’ in the world mean nothing without action to back them up. Second Amendment rights should not supersede people’s right to be safe at school, in grocery stores, in movie theatres, at church or anywhere else they go. PERIOD.”

By evening, comments supporting the mother’s stance shifted to condolences.

The deaths came to authorities’ attention at 5:59 a.m. Friday when campus police received a report of shots fired at a dormitory, the police department said. Officers found the pair dead in a dorm room around 6:05 a.m., the police department said in an earlier statement.

The campus was subjected to an hourlong lockdown until it was determined “no active shooter” was involved in the attack, according to the university’s log of alerts. A shelter-in-place alert was active for more than three hours.

City police were called for assistance, and Colorado Springs homicide detectives took command of the investigation, the city police department said.

The university was closed over the weekend, and Monday classes have been canceled so students can participate in a “day of healing” that includes a “healing circle” and a “healing walk,” the institution said in a letter to its campus community.

“We encourage everyone to come together throughout the day to support one another and intentionally set aside time for healing,” the university said.

Chancellor Jennifer Sobanet memorialized Knopp in a statement to the campus community.

“Sam was a senior studying music and a beloved member of the Visual and Performing Arts department,” she said. “He was an accomplished guitar player and an extremely talented musician.” 

The deaths came the same week a student identified by the chancellor as Mia Brown passed away. According to The Scribe, the university’s student-run news platform, Brown died the night of Feb. 12 after she was the subject of a medical emergency at the campus’ recreation center.

“This has been a difficult week with the loss of Mia Brown, another beloved student, on Monday. I know we are all mourning, so please, remember that you are not alone,” Sobanet said.

Knopp performed a junior recital early last year. He was scheduled to perform a senior recital on March 21.

A video of his junior recital shows Knopp in a short-sleeve dress shirt and jeans onstage at the university’s Ent Center for the Arts’ Chapman Foundation Recital Hall.

On video, Knopp played warm notes using what appeared to be a hollow-body electric guitar. Sometimes accompanied by fellow musicians, Knopp performed a wide variety of music, from jazz to classic rock.

Pueblo Community College, where Montgomery was a culinary arts student for one semester during the fall 2020 semester, issued a statement on Monday, extending its “heartfelt condolences to the family of former PCC student Celie Montgomery, as well as to the family of Samuel Knopp.

“These deaths, and the ensuing unimaginable pain, are happening much too often in an environment where teaching and learning should be our only concern,” the college added.  

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

Kurt Chirbas

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Josh Cradduck

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Erick Mendoza

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Madeline Morrison

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