Community mourns 21-year-old SUNY Potsdam student Elizabeth Howell, shot and killed near campus

POTSDAM, New York (WABC) -- The investigation continues Monday into why a SUNY college student from our area was shot to death in Upstate New York.

Police arrested 31-year-old Michael J. Snow and charged him with second-degree murder, but the question remains as to why it happened.

In the meantime, there is grief and heartache in the Putnam County town of Patterson over the death of 21-year-old Potsdam student Elizabeth Howell.

"She was walking home from a class at school, and I don't think I have words to express how sad everybody is," neighbor Kim Carmody said.

ALSO READ | Teen Luchiano Lewis gets 9 years to life in murder of Barnard student Tessa Majors
EMBED More News Videos

Luchiano Lewis was sentenced Thursday to the maximum nine years to life in prison in the stabbing death of Barnard freshman Tessa Majors.


She had her husband Paul Carmody knew Howell since she was a 4-year old girl, and they -- like many others in the tight knit community along Putnam Lake -- cannot comprehend who and why someone would kill the senior who played cello in the college symphony orchestra.

"I've known she was born," neighbor Barbara Darcy said. "We were very close. She was the sweetest, most artistic wonderful girl."

Police found Howell's body shortly before 6 p.m. Friday on a road just off campus. She suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

One day later, state troopers arrested Snow, of nearby Massena.

School administrators say Snow has no connection to the college either as a student, employee or graduate, which leaves many unanswered questions -- chief among them a motive for the shooting.

Police released a picture of the suspect's vehicle. and they want to hear from anyone who may have spotted the car before Howell's death.

"It's just a tragedy," Paul Carmody said. "Here's someone who shouldn't own a gun parading around and killing people for no reason. It's just a disgrace."

In a news release Saturday, SUNY Potsdam said it was "deeply saddened" to share that the victim of the shooting was a student at the school's Crane School of Music who was in the Class of 2022.

"We mourn Beth's loss as one campus community, and hold her family, friends, and loved ones in our hearts at this difficult time," it said.

ALSO READ | NAACP calls for officers in viral NJ mall fight video to be disciplined
EMBED More News Videos

Gov. Phil Murphy and the NAACP are weighing on the actions of two Bridgewater police officers who sparked controversy while breaking up a mall fight. Michelle Charlesworth has the story.


SUNY Potsdam canceled classes Monday and are planning a vigil and memorial concert in the coming days and weeks.

SUNY Potsdam, founded in 1816, was one of the country's first 50 colleges. With fewer than 3,000 undergraduate students. Nearly half of its students pursue studies in the sciences, social sciences or mathematics.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report)

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.