UPDATE | Sheriff: Drug deal gone wrong investigated as possible cause of Paine College shootings

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The shooting on Paine College's campus that injured one student may have stemmed from a drug deal gone wrong, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said.

Paine College has been deemed safe after four shootings within 48 hours near or on campus, Roundtree said. There is still heightened security on campus as of Tuesday morning.

The suspect in Monday's shooting, 20-year-old Xavier Deanthony Cooper, was booked into the Richmond County Jail around 11 p.m. Monday night. Cooper is charged with aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm on school building, grounds or function.

The student victim, 21-year-old JaJuan Baker, is not physically able to be interviewed as of Wednesday morning, he said. Officials confirm the victim and suspect are Paine College students.

Witnesses tell deputies the victim may have sold drugs to the suspect which led to the altercation on Monday, he said. The Sheriff's Office cannot confirm that drugs sparked the shooting, but they have "circumstantial evidence" related to the accusation. The gun used during Monday's Paine College campus shooting has not been located, he said.

Investigators are also looking to tie two more drive-by shootings on Laurel Street that happened on Monday to the incidents on campus, he said. Monday's on-campus shooting happened at Haygood, a building used for classrooms and offices. There was another shooting on campus on Sunday afternoon at Gray Hall around 4:30 p.m., a report said.

The victim and suspect have criminal pasts, Roundtree said. The victim, Baker, has a 2012 gun-related charge in North Carolina, records show.

The suspect, Cooper, was assaulted several months ago outside of a business, Roundtree said.

The Sheriff's Office is offering a $2,000 reward for information on any of the four shootings near Paine College's campus. Crimestoppers is offering to match the Sheriff's award with another $2,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Richmond County investigators are looking for Christopher Jackson, 26, as a person of interest in Sunday's shooting at Paine. They say he may be with his girlfriend, Ulat Young, driving a 1999 light tan/gold Ford Crown Victoria with Georgia tag BRX8779.

After the shooting situation is resolved, there will be an investigation into if police protocol needs to change at Paine College, Roundtree said.

Paine College police and the Sheriff's Office do not have radio communication, Roundtree said on Tuesday. Paine has to call 911 in order to receive assistance and they're working to change that.

"Our students have spoken out about what we need to do and the message to our communities about gun violence, violence and how we begin the conversation to get people back to a peaceful, quality atmosphere where education is in the forefront," Paine College Vice President Brandon Brown said on Tuesday. "Our students have been champions through this process."

"I was very excited to see our students smiling again yesterday," Brown said on Wednesday. "We don't want to lose focus on all of the talented people we have here, especially with graduation this weekend."

Click here to watch Tuesday's afternoon press conference.
Click here to watch Wednesday's afternoon press conference.

Extensive coverage of #PaineShooting here:


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