After shootings at two U.S. universities shook students last week, some Ohio State officials said OSU would be ready if something similar were to happen in Columbus.
A Purdue University student fatally stabbed and shot a fellow student in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday. The student who committed the crime was charged with murder Thursday.
Another shooting was reported at South Carolina State University Friday, which resulted in a student’s death. One suspect has been arrested so far in the latter case.
University spokesman Gary Lewis sent a university statement about the shootings to The Lantern in an email.
“We were saddened to hear about tragic events on other college campuses this week, and our thoughts and support go out to the victims, their families and our colleagues at those institutions,” he said.
Lewis also emphasized OSU’s efforts toward university safety.
“The safety of our students, staff, faculty, patients and university guests is of the utmost importance,” he said. “These tragic incidents are unfortunate reminders that we should all be familiar with the many resources available to help us keep our community safe.”
David Rose, the University Police patrol bureau captain, said officers at OSU would be ready if a shooting happened on campus.
“University (Police officers) are well-prepared with training, equipment and technology to respond appropriately and effectively to an incident, such as those which have taken place at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech,” Rose said.
In February 2008, a man shot 21 people, five of whom were killed, at Northern Illinois University, before he shot and killed himself.
In April 2007, a Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University student fatally shot 32 people at Virginia Tech before killing himself.
There was also a shooting on OSU’s campus in March 2010. An OSU employee shot a manager and a shift leader at the OSU Maintenance Building before shooting himself. The shooter and manager both died from gunshot wounds, but the shift leader survived.
The university has a variety of ways to communicate with students if immediate action is required to keep them safe, Lewis said, including the Buckeye Alert system, which notifies students, staff and faculty, as well as others, about potential threats in the campus area via text message.
When a potential threat of a shooting or explosive violence was identified by the university April 7, OSU informed students via public safety notice. The threat was reportedly geared at a “cafeteria” or unspecified area on campus. Police presence was increased on campus the following day investigating the claims that were made on a website. Four days earlier, University Police had issued a notice for a similar threat made on a fantasy, role-player game site.
Despite recent events, some OSU students said typically they don’t worry much about their safety at OSU.
“OSU is a (generally) safe campus,” said Amy Roberts, a fourth-year in linguistics.
Roberts said she thinks the shootings this past week might influence OSU officials’ view of safety on campus and might even lead to changes.
“(The shooting at Purdue was) a lot of closer than the shooting at Virginia Tech a few years ago,” Roberts said.
Zack Sobel, a third-year in psychology, said the shooting at Purdue could have easily happened at OSU because the institutions have similar gun-free environments.
He said OSU should consider allowing people with concealed carry permits to carry guns to campus, because it could help protect them from individuals who intend to commit violent crime.
“Criminals obviously don’t care if (there are) gun free zones or not,” Sobel said.
Concealed weapons are considered those which are kept hidden on one’s person or under one’s control. To obtain an Ohio Concealed Handgun License, several requirements must be met, including completing a 12-hour Concealed Carry Weapons course and passing criminal and mental competency checks.
Concealed carry is prohibited at OSU, a regulation University Police Chief Paul Denton has said is a combination of different state and campus policies.
Ohio Law ORC 2923.126 prohibits concealed carry on “any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle.”
The Workplace and Family Relationship Violence Policy 7.05, which applies to faculty, staff and student employees, states possession of deadly weapons, including firearms, are prohibited on university property, and the Code of Student Conduct, Section 3335-23-04 E., states storage or possession of dangerous weapons, including firearms, is prohibited.
OSU does not allow students with concealed carry permit to carry guns to campus, because it is hard for them to identify a crime suspect if multiple people have guns in a shooting scenario, Rose said.
Other students agreed with Sobel that OSU’s policy wouldn’t necessarily stop a shooting from happening in the first place.
“People who are doing the shooting are not the people who follow the rules,” said Jessica Gehret, a graduate student in social work.
The day after the Purdue shooting, a shooting was reported at the University of Oklahoma. The university was shut down as a result Wednesday, but it later appeared to have been a false alarm.
Lewis said overall, the best safety measure OSU students can take is to be aware.
“The best way to prevent a threat is for everyone to be aware of their surroundings and immediately report anything suspicious,” Lewis said.