INDIANAPOLIS — A Purdue University engineering student who police say fatally shot another student in a basement classroom prepared to face a judge as those who knew both men struggled to make sense of the violence Wednesday.
Cody Cousins, 23, was scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in a small courtroom at the Tippecanoe County Jail, Deputy Prosecutor Kristen McVey said in a statement.
Cousins, who has addresses in Warsaw, Ind., and Centerville, Ohio, is being held without bond on a preliminary charge of murder in Tuesday’s shooting death of 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend, Wis. Police have said Cousins targeted Boldt but they haven’t disclosed why or how the two might have known each other.
Conflicting portraits are emerging of Cousins. Former high school classmates and teachers say he excelled academically. But some at Purdue say he could be rude and disliked being told he was wrong.
Police have said both Cousins and Boldt were seniors, and they identified Boldt as a teaching assistant. However, documents posted on the engineering school’s website also listed Cousins as a teaching assistant. Both he and Boldt worked under Professor David Meyer for separate classes, according to the documents.
Purdue spokeswoman Liz Evans would not comment on Cousins’ status. A woman who answered the phone at Meyer’s home said the professor would not comment.
Cousins graduated from Springboro High School in southwestern Ohio, about an hour outside of Cincinnati, school district spokeswoman Karen DeRosa said.
“We know he excelled academically and was very strong in technology and computer science,” DeRosa said.
Greg Adams, who graduated from Springboro with Cousins, said the two weren’t close friends but that Cousins seemed friendly.
“From what I saw he was very outgoing,” said Adams, 24, who still lives in Springboro. “He had a girlfriend. After school I’d see him in the computer labs and he’d be talking to his friends and girlfriend.”
Former high school classmate Matt Herman, who works for WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, told the station that Cousins was on an academic team and part of the skiing and snowboarding club in high school.
“We were all really shocked to hear this,” Herman said of the allegations against Cousins.
But Cousins may not have fared as well at Purdue.
Ashley Eidsmore, a teaching assistant in the engineering school, told The Associated Press that Cousins was an undergraduate member of her research team working through the Vertically Integrated Projects course. She said some of her lab mates who worked closely with Cousins complained that he was a “just all-around rude individual.”
Purdue Professor Thomas Talavage, who worked with Cousins, said he was intense and aggressive about his projects.
“He didn’t like to be told he was wrong,” Talavage said. “He tended to be more aggressive in his debating and tended to be more convinced he was right.”
Talavage said the electrical engineering students are under tremendous pressure and many don’t graduate from the program even though they were top students before coming to Purdue.
Eidsmore, who was down the hall when the shooting occurred, said Boldt was a “brilliant student” who “wrote emails with exclamations of excitement and wore shorts all year long.”
“No one can comprehend why this terrible event occurred. I am just glad I was able to tell him all the good things I had heard about him from the teaching staff,” she told the AP in an email.
The moods on the Purdue campus in West Lafayette — about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis — and in Boldt’s hometown in Wisconsin remained subdued Wednesday. Purdue reopened most of the electrical engineering building where the shooting occurred, but students weren’t scheduled to return to class until Thursday.
A billboard that appeared Wednesday along Interstate 65 south simply featured the word “Prayers” — the “P’’ from the Purdue logo.
About 150 people gathered for a prayer service Wednesday evening at the church Boldt’s family attends in West Bend, Wis., about 40 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The family was mostly absent from the gathering because they wanted to pray in private, the Rev. Nathan Reesman said.
“Like the rest of his family, he was polite, reserved, friendly and bright,” Reesman said of Boldt.
Terry Gardon, Boldt’s middle school math teacher, remembered him as being a quick thinker when it came to understanding math concepts. Gardon, who attended the service, said Boldt would help other students if they were struggling.
“He was the kid that would bring a whole group of kids together. They’d all want to be around him because he was just so kind to everybody,” Gardon said, her eyes brimming with tears. “I couldn’t imagine anyone doing anything bad to him because he was such a nice kid.”
Around the time of the service in Wisconsin, Purdue was reacting to a report of another shooting — this time in the area of an apartment complex that houses students with families. The university later said police were “unable to locate any problem” and that there was no threat to the campus.