Elizabeth Howell, a music student at SUNY Potsdam, was shot and killed on Friday. Police have arrested Michael Snow for the murder while they investigate a possible motive. Officers say that the shooting was an isolated incident, and that Snow is not affiliated with the university in any way.
According to police reports, the shooting took place around 6 p.m. Friday night. Potsdam police were called to College Park Road after they received reports of an unconscious woman. Officers discovered 21-year-old Elizabeth Howell on the side of the road with multiple gunshot wounds.
The SUNY Potsdam student was taken to Canton Potsdam Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Officers arrested Michael Snow for the college student’s murder. He was picked up on Saturday, and police have not shared what led to his arrest. The 31-year-old is originally from Massena, N.Y, and it is unclear how or if he knew the victim. According to a press release issued by the state police, “State Police have charged Michael J. Snow, 31, of Massena, NY, with one count of murder 2nd degree. He was arraigned in the town of Potsdam court and was remanded to St. Lawrence County Jail with no bail.”
Following the shooting, SUNY Potsdam students were under a shelter in place ruling until mid-morning Saturday. Campus members were urged to lock their doors and travel in groups. Police then determined that the murder was an isolated incident and that no other students could be harmed.
Classes at the university have been canceled for Monday while the campus community mourns the death of one of their own. SUNY Potsdam released a statement following Elizabeth Howell’s death.
The statement said, “We mourn Beth’s loss as one campus community, and hold her family, friends and loved ones in our hearts at this difficult time. While we struggle to make sense of this tragedy, please support one another and please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. We must be there for each other as we grieve this tremendous loss.”
SUNY Potsdam added, “We have designated the Hosmer Gallery in the lobby of the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at The Crane School of Music as a memorial space for members of the campus community. All will be welcome to leave flowers or items in Beth’s memory.”
Counselors are being made available for grieving students and the university is planning a memorial concert and vigil in Elizabeth’s honor.
According to the university, Elizabeth Howell was a talented student and musician. She played the cello for the school’s Crane Symphony Orchestra, and she was looking forward to graduating and becoming a teacher. Howell majored in music education. The 21-year-old was originally from Patterson, N.Y.
Since her murder, many students have spoken out about the killing and were surprised that it happened in their quiet college town. Dave Biritteri, who lived on the road where Elizabeth Howell was killed, said, “It’s a quiet town. People who know Potsdam- it’s a college town. It’s relatively quiet. Nothing like this happens.”
Other students have praised the university for taking the time to mourn Howell’s death and allow other community members to take the time and grieve. Phillip Kramer said, “This whole weekend is going to be about mourning. This campus is very good about taking the time to mourn those who have been lost.”
Police continue to investigate the killing.