Students express concern over alert system

Cameron Coyle

Multiple students have voiced concerns about the delayed text message alert sent by WKU regarding the shots fired on campus last week.

On Oct. 17, multiple shots were reported to have been fired on campus around 11 p.m. near College Heights Boulevard and the Registry Apartments. Many students who did not hear the gunshots were alerted by Joe Imel, director of media operations at the Bowling Green Daily News, who tweeted about shots being fired shortly after 11 p.m.

Around midnight, WKU sent out a text message to students that read, “WKU Alert: WKUPD assisted BGPD to a report of shots fired at Registry Apts. at approximately 11:05 pm. At this time there is no evidence of any shots fired.”

Witnesses helped police locate five .223 caliber shell casings the following day. On Thursday, Oct. 19, campus police held a press conference where they shared they had three unnamed suspects.

At the press conference, WKU police showed photographs of the suspects, one with a rifle, in the North Diddle parking lot near the campus police station on Oct. 17.

New Albany, Indiana, sophomore Olivia Eiler was studying in her room in Southwest Hall when she heard about the shooting.

“I am involved with News Channel 12 on campus, and that’s where I initially heard about it around 11 [p.m.],” Elier said. “There was a lot of confusion in the group about what was happening and what was fact and what wasn’t. I didn’t get the text from Western Kentucky until midnight, so I was surprised that it was an hour between the time that I heard about it from friends in the university, you know, warning me for my safety.”

Elier said she understood why the university might have wanted to wait to send the text, but said she also thought it was a matter of safety.

“I understand that you don’t want to spread misinformation, that you want to make sure that it’s an actual event before you start spreading panic with students, but I think within 10 minutes they could have gathered that there was a danger,” Eiler said.

Munfordville sophomore Jon Lawler was also in his dorm when he found out from his roommate that someone had fired shots on campus.

“It was just kind of a scary deal not knowing what was happening because no one had said anything really about it,” Lawler said. “I think the text alert was really late, so I feel like that should have went out kind of quicker.”

Lawler also said he felt students would feel more at ease when police take “whoever it was” into custody.

Louisville junior Ethan Conkin thought campus police should be further along in their investigation at this point.

“It’s been a week since, so I think they should have a little more of an assurance like narrowed it down,” Conkin said. “I know it’s hard for those cases like to figure it out.”

WKU Police Department detective and public information officer Tim Gray said they have received more tips and are still working down on tracking down those leads.

“As soon as we get to a point where we’re able to release that information and that we’re confident in what that information put out there is, we’re going to be updating all of our media,” Gray said.

Gray said investigators came on Monday and “really hit the ground running on some information.”

He said campus police has some leads on who the suspects might be, but they are keeping the information private until the evidence can be considered concrete.

“We do believe that there was some type of previous incident between either said person or persons that led up to this but what exactly the details of that incident, whether it be an argument or whatnot, we still don’t know,” Gray said.

Reporter Cameron Coyle can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].