Graduate student Matthew Hamilton said the crowd scattered when the gunfire began, ducking behind concrete benches and hiding in bushes. One girl, he said, had "terror in her eyes." He saw two of the victims run toward a nearby building, one stopping on the stairs, another lying on the ground nearby. He added that there was a "very quick response" by USC's safety officers and the LAPD.
Inside the party, students didn't immediately realize what had happened outside and the music continued playing.
Eugene Hall said his son had attended the party with several of his former football teammates, including Davonte Smith, who was shot in the foot. The younger Hall, the 2009 L.A. City Football Player of the Year, was recovering at California Hospital Medical Center after being shot in the stomach, left thigh, leg, buttocks and arm, his father said.
"The doc says he'll pull through," said Hall, a 47-year-old barber in Compton.
Hall said that he did not know why his son was shot or who the suspects were but that USC should keep those who are not in school away from campus parties.
The younger Hall is working on an associate of arts degree and playing football at West Los Angeles Community College, his father said. His goal was to transfer to a university, possibly in Oregon, Hawaii or New Mexico, to play football.
A man who identified himself as a USC student who helped plan the Halloween party said organizers tried to keep those without a student identification card out. "Some left and some didn't," said Roger Bayyan, a junior studying film.
Bayyan said he believed that many non-students mistakenly believed the party was open to all, though it was intended for college students only. The university said campus policy requires parties to be open only to guests with student IDs from USC or another school.
Times staff writers Ari Bloomekatz, Larry Gordon, Wesley Lowery, Teresa Watanabe, Andrew Khouri and Richard Winton contributed to this report.