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Classes canceled after player killed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Classes at the University of Memphis were canceled Monday after a football player was fatally shot on campus, in what school officials said was a targeted attack but police later said may have been random.

By late Monday afternoon police had not identified any suspects in the slaying of Taylor Bradford, who was shot about 9:45 p.m. Sunday, apparently near a university housing complex.

After the shooting, the 21-year-old junior crashed a car he was driving into a tree. Police said they had not determined whether he was shot before or after he started driving the vehicle.

Police were responding to a car crash when Bradford was found slumped over in the vehicle on a campus street about 200 yards from his apartment complex.

"It wasn't until the paramedics got there that they determined there was a possible gunshot wound," said Bruce Harber, director of university police. He was apparently shot once, police said, though an autopsy was pending.

University President Shirley Raines said authorities quickly determined Bradford's killers were not a threat to other students but still banned all outsiders from campus housing throughout the night.

In an e-mail to faculty, students and staff at 3:40 a.m. Monday, the university said "the initial investigation indicates this was an act directed specifically toward the victim and was not a random act of violence."

The university, which is primarily a commuter campus, still decided to cancel classes. The University of Memphis had 20,562 students enrolled for last fall, according to its Web site.

"We feel like the campus is safe, but we'd rather err on the side of safety than not," spokesman Curt Guenther said.

City police, who are handling the case because it is a homicide investigation, expressed less certainty that Bradford had been specifically targeted than university officials did.

City Police Director Larry Godwin said a motive for the shooting had not been determined and police had no suspects identified.

"We really don't know whether it was a random act or whether or not this individual was targeted," he said.

After a day of mourning the death of their teammate, the Memphis Tigers will take on Marshall as planned tonight.

"There's going to be a 3 1/2-hour block where we have to have our minds on business, as hard as it is," Memphis coach Tommy West said.