Campus officials didn't give any indication that Gil Collar, 18, of Wetumpka had a weapon when he was shot. A university spokesman said he was fatally wounded about 1:30 a.m. Saturday after an officer heard a bang on a window and went outside to investigate.
A statement issued by university spokesman Keith Ayers said Collar, who wrestled at Wetumpka High School before enrolling at South Alabama, assumed a "fighting stance" and chased an officer before being shot. The officer tried to retreat numerous times to defuse the situation before opening fire, the school said.
But sophomore Tyler Kendrick said campus authorities haven't provided any satisfying answers about why Collar was killed.
"Really, it just upsets me that there's no other way to apprehend an unarmed student rather than shooting him. I don't understand that," Kendrick said.
Student Joshua Frye said it seemed the officer could have used something other than a firearm to stop Collar.
"What I feel is that a cop has more than a gun," he said.
The officer was placed on paid leave, and an autopsy will determine if drugs or alcohol were involved.
Campus officials said the confrontation was recorded by security cameras. The video and other information has been turned over to the district attorney and the Mobile County Sheriff's Office, which will review the shooting.
Colgan Meanor went to high school with Collar and then enrolled at the same college.
"He was a great, loving guy who always made people smile," she said. "He's not the kind of guy that people knew him and said he would do something like this."
Collar was the second person killed on the South Alabama campus since last year.
A university freshman was charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of another teenager who was slain in an on-campus apartment in July 2011. The victim was a visitor to campus and was not enrolled, authorities said.
Ayers said South Alabama, located near downtown Mobile, was still "a very safe campus," despite Collar's death.