The family and friends of 18-year-old University of South Alabama student Gil Collar– who was fatally shot by police Saturday– are looking for answers.
According to reports, Collar was shot around 1:30 a.m. after he started banging on the window of police headquarters, completely naked. Describing him as “muscular,” a campus representative added that Collar wrestled at Wetumpka High School before enrolling in the university, and that he assumed a “fighting stance” before he started chasing the officer. The officer tried to retreat numerous times to defuse the situation before opening fire, the school said.
Collar was shot first in the chest, but apparently was able to get back up and challenge the officer one more time before collapsing, police say.
But sophomore Tyler Kendrick said campus authorities still haven’t provided any satisfying answers about why Collar was killed.
“Really, it just upsets me that there’s no other way to apprehend an unarmed student rather than shooting him. I don’t understand that,” Kendrick said.
Student Joshua Frye said it seemed the officer could have used something other than a firearm– perhaps first trying a Tazer or pepper spray– to stop Collar.
“What I feel is that a cop has more than a gun,” he noted.
Campus officials said the confrontation was recorded by security cameras, and the video and other information has been turned over to the district attorney and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
Local station WKRG has more, including an interview with Collar’s friends and classmates:
Colgan Meanor reportedly went to high school with Collar, and then enrolled at the same college.
“He was a great, loving guy who always made people smile,” she said. “He’s not the kind of guy that people knew him and said he would do something like this.”
Collar’s former wrestling coach was only able to say “he was a…” before breaking down in an interview with The Wetumka Herald. He later instant messaged the paper:
“I remember the first time he walked into the wrestling room … He was such a natural. He was the only wrestler I coached who wrestled varsity for six years. That takes more heart than I can tell you. We began our tenure in Wetumpka wrestling at the same time. He was a physical, spiritual and mental warrior. And I love him like my own.”
Collar was the second person killed on the South Alabama campus since last year, but university spokesman Keith Ayers said South Alabama is still “a very safe campus.”
The officer who shot the young man was placed on paid leave, and an autopsy will determine if drugs or alcohol were involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.