Just before 10:30 Wednesday night, police were called to the corner of pickett and henion streets for a report of possible gunshots. They told LCTV they found bullet casings at the scene. Police said that they believe the gunman was on foot. But even with that thought in mind, the campus did not go on lockdown.
Loras campus safety posted an alert to the portal and sent out a campus-wide email approximately 13 hours after the reported shots. Many students have been asking why there was no lockdown and why the campus did not use the emergency alert system. Where do campus safety measures end, and local law enforcement begins? Loras had to decipher where to draw that line during this potentially dangerous incident.
Arthur Sunleaf, Vice president for student development, says:
“we want to provide the information that is important for people to have in order to be safe at the same time be cautious of does this pertain to us does it not pertain to us” »
Police were made aware of shots fired, as was Loras security. When the question of a lockdown came into play, Lieutenant Scott Baxter, public information officer for Dubuque Police Department explains that the area was contained early on and they were fairly confident it wasn’t Loras related.
After following up with police on the scene Sunleaf states:
“at the time police said it wasn’t a matter for us to lockdown the campus to do anything other then what they were doing because it was off campus and they were handling it and two the nature of the incident was not a threat to our students or our campus” »
Baxter explains that each incident is different from one another. It is dependent upon the situation and in the moment, a lot is going on, and a lot of information that is still trying to be processed.
He says “it’s a tough call to make you know and we don’t always make the right one but we do take student safety seriously just like Loras does.”
But that does not take away from the fact that the incident occurred so close to campus grounds, in fact the only thing separating student’s from the crime was a parking lot. Pickett street is a block away from three of the main residence halls on campus, giving students a front row seat to the sights and sounds of the investigation.
Brian Flynn was a witness to the event “I was outside on the phone and two cars hit each other and then I heard about four or five shots.”
While many heard the shots and saw the lights, they woke up the next morning still wondering what happened. Answers came just before the noon hour when campus staff sent out an alert.
Art Sunleaf says, “I was aware of it that night… so in the morning we could inform the campus… the hard thing with that is that we have accurate information that we can share.” Both police and campus officials say they have a responsibility to release appropriate information at appropriate times. Baxter explains that when an investigation is as active as this situation was then police have to be careful to not ruin the case by release premature information. Sunleaf’s thoughts were echoed when he explains that there is a fine balance between what folks want to know, and what they need to know.”