By Ashley Malin
For the second time this academic year, a shot rang out on campus. On Sunday, March 27 at 3:20am, Security Services alerted students of an attempted armed robbery near Anderson/Langston Residency in the North End of campus. No one was injured in the incident.
According to Director of Security Todd Badham, a student and one of their guests were outside of Anderson/Langdon Hall a little before 3:00 a.m. “Three white males came around the corner of the building from the West on the North Side of the building, confronted the two students and asked them for their money. The students said they didn’t have any money. They noticed that two of the suspects were armed. One of them had what appeared to be a handgun and the other one had what was described as a shorter, or smaller shotgun,” Badham said.
“The guest said, ‘By the way that gun doesn’t even look real.’” According to Badham, the suspect fired the shot in the air. The suspects asked for money again and the students repeated they didn’t have any. “They said something along the lines of, ‘well today is your [expletive] lucky day and they left, running towards the chapel up towards 18th street. The students went inside the building, called us. We were there within two minutes.”
According to Badham, Security Services arrived on the scene, called for Tacoma Police and for a canine to track the suspects up 18th Ave through the fraternities. “On the south side of one of the fraternities, they lost the scent for whatever reason.” Tacoma Police checked around the area of the fraternities. “My staff did an internal [search] on that fraternity to make sure everything was okay inside and everything was,” Badham said. “So whether they had a car waiting and got in a car and left, don’t know.”
In an email sent out March 27, Badham reports that there are no additional updates on the suspects.
“I think, initially I was really scared,” first-year Rosie Rushing, a resident of A/L, said. “I think everybody was super scared to wake up to those text messages, but that morning Todd Badham sent out an email letting North Quad residents know that there would be a forum in the AL lounge and that really helped get back that sense of something I can control in the community and that feeling of safety again.”
“It’s pretty jarring to have a gun alone on campus at all, fired right outside of your building,” freshman Olivia Burke said. “But I think that’s part of having an open campus.”
On the same Sunday afternoon, Badham conducted a forum in Anderson/Langston Residence Hall to address the updated police investigation and students’ questions.
“I found that it was helpful that there was a variety of people there,” first-year Olivia Burke, also a resident of A/L, said. “The University Chaplain [David Wright] was there and the head of Security [Services] was there and a few other people. They actually read us the full transcript of the police report, which was really nice. It was pretty student directed from there and they opened it up to any questions, any concerns we might have. I don’t think there was any questions they shied away from. They were very transparent with the whole situation.”
“I think a lot of first year students are wondering, is this typical if every year this happens and he [Todd Badham] dispelled that and that this is a really odd year and that things like this don’t normally happen.”
According to Rushing, Badham addressed how off campus people will “cut the corners on campus as a shortcut to get to another location like Proctor or 6th Ave and then they run into students and have some more violent interactions like that.”
On Tuesday, April 5, Security Services will conduct two open sessions on campus safety at 4:00pm and 6:00pm in the Rasmussen Rotunda in Wheelock Student Center for students, faculty, and staff. “That is an opportunity for anyone in the campus community to come and hear the same thing that I did for ASUPS Senate and the other nine groups, but now that we’ve had this incident on Sunday, I think we’re going to weave that into it too.”
“I think they should show it [the video] at orientation just right from the start and that way all the freshman are together, like before a full freshman class meeting,” Burke said. “I think it would be more effective.”
The Trail has reported two previous incidents of gun use on campus. On November 3, 2015 around 3:00am ten shots were fired at Puget Sound Security officers by 21-year old Alex Kjellesvik at the intersection of 13th and Alder. On April 25, 2012 near Seward Residence Hall, a man suspected of breaking into vehicles on campus dropped his firearm in a struggle with Security Service officers and his gun fired a shot. No one was injured in either incident.
After the November 2015 incident, students expressed their frustration at delayed Security alert text messages after the shots were fired. Badham, Dean Mike Segawa and Executive Director of Community Engagement and Associate Vice President for Business Services John Hickey continue discussion of how to equip students and staff in cases of emergency.
“I want to feel protected, but at the same point I don’t think it would make our community very protected if these Security Officers walking around at night feel the need to carry around lethal weapons. Personally, I would say the Kevlar vests are really good,” Rushing said.
Currently Badham says that Security Service officers wear Kevlar vests and carry pepper spray for non-lethal defense. Last fall, Badham made recommendations to the university centered around the work of Security Services, some of which have been implemented. “I feel like we need to do more,” Badham said. Security Services has meet with nine campus groups including faculty, Staff Senature, and ASUPS Senate.
According to Badham, two security officers resigned from their posts after this incident due to family concerns for their safety. “Understanding this era of violence is around us and making sure that we’re being proactive and that we’re doing everything that we should be doing that is appropriate to our environment to not only keep the campus safe, but to keep our officers safe who are out in the field dealing with these situations upfront.
“It’s very important to me that we do our best to serve the community that we’re in, kind of like as guests in whatever ways we can,” Burke said, “so I get weirded out when people are like, well, ‘why are people allowed to just walk onto the campus at any point in time,’ which I feel like has kind of been the knee jerk reaction.”
Burkes cites equally the importance of being aware of how “militarization” of security as a police presence on campus can have a negative effect on students of color. “That was something that was brought up when the second incident happened [the Security meeting in the Rotunda] by a student of color just putting that viewpoint out there, ‘cause people were saying like, why don’t our security guards just carry guns?”
“I think it’s something we’re experiencing as a nation and the university is not immune to it,” Badham said.
Security Services encourages students to review information on campus safety including the Shots Fired on Campus video at www.pugetsound.edu/emergency.