I woke up this morning to an e-mail alert from SMU describing an “active” shooter on campus. He was first seen at 8:18 AM in the vicinity of the student center. However, this e-mail was sent at 9:06 AM when the campus first locked-down. Ten minutes later, the “shooter” was arrested near Mockingbird Station.
The shooter in fact was not armed with a gun but with a knife. The suspect also called 911 on himself at 6:00AM from his apartment on Melody Lane (that’s behind the new Sam’s Club/Walmart on NW Hwy/Skillman) to report that he was suicidal. He is now being evaluated at a psychiatric hospital, as reported by KRLD. Listen to an eyewitness account of the arrest here.
After the lockdown ended, SMU Provost Paul Ludden sent an e-mail saying that exams will continue as originally scheduled for 11:30 AM onwards today. As far as the exams taking place during the lockdown, “students who may have missed exams scheduled prior to 11 a.m. will need to work with their professors,” the SMU homepage says.”
The only exams going on began at 8:00AM and likely no student missed one because of this. Professors often begin early exams later at say, 9, at their discretion, as was the case with my 8AM Saturday statistics final last Spring.
One student taking an exam during the lockdown stated, “[my professor] didn’t even reschedule it.”
When asked about the procedure inside the classroom she added, “Well for one we figured out it’s near impossible to lock COX doors from the inside. Nothing thrilling though…just shut the lights off and talked about what’s happening.”
Another student was just arriving on campus when the suspect was first spotted. “…I’m in the library and was outside at 8:30AM,” she said.
SMUs Fondren Library is not even a block north of Airline and Dyer Streets where the suspect was first seen. At that exact location are 4 buildings housing students: The Service House, Pi Kappa Alpha House, Lambda Chi Alpha House and Sigma Alpha Epsilon House. All SMU dorms require an ID to unlock the door, 24/7.
Had this been a legitimate “active shooter” situation, the 52 minute lag in between the suspect’s arrival and SMUs lock-down, could have been disastrous. Unknowing students may have walked right into his path.
SMU last activated its emergency management system during a tornado outbreak in April last year. Conflicting messages were sent within seconds of each other, advising SMU to take shelter and then not, and then to take shelter again.
SMU must issue a statement describing what happened here and review its system for future accuracy and timeliness.