MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Witnesses say a University of South Alabama student was screaming obscenities and talking about being on a “spiritual quest” shortly before campus police fatally shot him.
Two students who knew 18-year-old Gil Collar described him Monday as appearing intoxicated shortly before his death early Saturday.
The university says Collar was nude, acting erratically and challenging a police officer when the officer opened fire. A school statement makes no mention of Collar being armed.
South Alabama students Bronte Harber and Sarah Hay say Collar was partially disrobed and loud shortly before his death.
Hay says Collar was talking nonsensically about being on a “spiritual quest.” Harber says Collar was wearing only his underwear and yelling obscenities near police headquarters, where the killing occurred.
Neither saw the shooting.
Mom: Student didn’t touch officer who shot him
(AP) – The mother of a University of South Alabama freshman killed by a campus police officer said Monday she’s been told he never touched the officer who shot him.
Gil Collar of Wetumpka was naked when he was shot at 1:30 a.m. Saturday outside the campus police station. University officials said Collar, a star wrestler at Wetumpka High School before enrolling in South Alabama, assumed a “fighting stance” and chased the officer before being shot. The university said security video captured the events.
“I have been told by someone involved in the investigation that the videotape shows my son never touched the police officer,” Bonnie Smith Collar said in a phone interview. She did not elaborate on how the person was involved in the investigation.
The university said the officer heard a bang on a window at campus police headquarters and went outside to investigate. The officer tried to retreat numerous times to defuse the situation before opening fire, the university said in a news release.
Collar’s mother said she has received conflicting information about what might have happened before the shooting and declined to discuss it. But, she said, “Whatever caused the incident was something that made him act not in his normal personality.”
“I ask that everyone withhold their judgment about what did or did not happen until the evidence comes out,” his mother said.
Collar’s high school wrestling coach, Jeff Glass, said he was a popular student who even made friends with his opponents on the wrestling mat.
“He didn’t know an enemy, but he had a way of making you feel like you were his best friend,” Glass said.
He said Collar was so good-looking that other wrestlers didn’t want to stand next to him in the team picture.
“The girls thought he was the best thing they had ever seen, and they may have been right,” he said.
He said Collar was a good athlete but stood only 5-foot-7 and 135 pounds.
Those measurements are backed up by court records that show Collar had two minor scrapes with police earlier this year: He got a speeding ticket for driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone in May, and he paid a $25 fine after pleading guilty to being a minor in possession of tobacco after being caught with three cigarettes in March.
A candlelight vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wetumpka High School. Collar’s mother said funeral arrangements have not yet been made yet.