Colgate Releases First Findings on False Alarm on Shooter

May 15, 2017

Colgate University released its findings from a 10-day review that examined what went wrong May 1 when the university mistook a black student carrying a glue gun for an “active shooter” on campus.

Colgate students received two campus security alerts that evening. The first indicated a person with a gun had entered a campus building. The second reported an active shooter on campus and ordered a lockdown. It caused fear and anxiety on campus, as well as a social media frenzy.

Upon learning that the “active shooter” was a student who needed a glue gun for an art project, Brian W. Casey, the president of Colgate, promised to review what happened and make the results public. He said he believed racial profiling could have contributed to the escalated events from that night.

The findings -- as well as some recommendations -- are now available on the university’s website. The review found the university should improve its emergency response structures as well as the flow of communication surrounding potentially threatening situations.

The two senior administrators leading the review said in the report that the matter of racial profiling or bias is inconclusive.

“There is no appropriate way within the time frame and scope of this investigation to fully, or even preliminarily, assess the role that bias might have played in the initial report to Campus Safety of perceptions of an armed person,” the report said.

“The university should aggressively consider the ways in which it can shape the campus environment to minimize the likelihood that members of our community will be inaccurately perceived as threats.”

The report recommends the university provide more information and training for all students, faculty and staff in dealing with emergency situations.

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