UC Davis responds to Virginia Tech shootings

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UC Davis responds to Virginia Tech shootings

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Officials discuss emergency notification systems
By: Talia Kennedy
Posted: 4/17/07

Editor's note: Monday's shootings at Virginia Tech marked the deadliest act of violence on a college campus in American history. Here, The California Aggie provides information on the shootings and responses from the UC Davis campus community.

When an unidentified gunman entered the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University on Monday morning and opened gunfire, killing two students in a residence hall, the news instantly made national headlines - but the 25,000 students enrolled at the Blacksburg, Va. college were not notified of the incident until hours later, when dozens more had been injured or killed, reports said.

At about 7:15 a.m. in Virginia, the gunman entered a residence hall on campus, fatally wounding two students. According to reports, the campus community was not notified of the incident because university officials believed it to be an isolated event.

"We knew we had two people shot," said Wendell Flinchum, a Virigina Tech police officer, at a press conference Monday afternoon. "We secured the building. We secured the crime scene. We acted on the best information we had at the time."
About two hours later, the gunman returned, this time to Norris Hall, an academic building on the opposite side of the campus. It was here where the gunman reportedly lined students up against a wall, shooting them all.

By noon California time, 33 were confirmed dead and at least 22 were reported injured. The shooter, whose identity had not been determined by press time, was found dead among his victims, apparently due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to reports.

In the hours after the shootings, universities across the country began showing their support for the Virginia Tech victims, including the University of California.

In a statement released Monday, UC President Robert Dynes said, "Shock and horror only begin to describe our reactions at the University of California to the terrible events that have unfolded today at Virginia Tech. Our hearts go out to the families of those whose lives have been lost, and our prayers are with those who have been wounded physically and emotionally by today's campus shootings.

"All of our campuses will be reviewing again their safety programs and procedures in light of today's events, and as we learn more about the specific circumstances of the Virginia Tech shootings, we will apply those lessons as well," he said. "We take these issues extremely seriously and will continue working to provide the safest possible environment for our students, faculty and staff."

The Virginia Tech killings marked the deadliest act of violence on a college campus in U.S. history.

In 1966, Charles Whitman shot 16 people from the 28th floor of a clock tower at the University of Texas before he was shot and killed by campus police.

Eight years ago this Friday, two students shot 12 of their peers and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

"Clearly, university campuses are not immune from the threats of violence that exist in our broader society," Dynes wrote in his statement, and that includes UC Davis.

On Dec. 14, 2004, Martin Louie Castro Soriano, 26, who was seen loitering near the Regan Hall residence halls in Segundo, was reported as a suspicious person to the UC Davis Police Department. When three officers responded and attempted to calm Soriano with three Taser shots, he opened fire.

The officers returned fire, shooting and killing Soriano, who died at the scene. It was later determined that the man had been under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana at the time of the shooting, but his death was the first officer-involved shooting on the UC Davis campus.

On Jan. 18, senior mathematics student Glenn Kirkpatrick was arrested by campus police after 9-1-1 callers reported seeing a man with a rifle in the Mathematical Sciences Building. Though Kirkpatrick's rifle was a rubber replica he used as a Reserve Officers' Training Corps student, the report prompted the lockdown of two campus buildings.

Lisa Lapin, UC Davis' assistant vice chancellor for university communications, said UC Davis has a police force well-trained to respond to emergencies of any kind.

"Our police are trained in rapid-response to exactly this kind of thing," she said. "Our police department is like any that would serve a city. That helps us respond to any kind of crisis.

"However, we are pretty much an open, public campus," she said.

Lapin said emergency plans are in place for UC Davis, but the campus' emergency notification systems are not yet efficient. Students at Virginia Tech were not notified by e-mail of the initial shootings on campus until hours after they took place.

"We have a system that can dial all campus phone numbers, but it takes three hours," she said. "We can also send e-mails to everyone, but it also takes three hours."

Lapin said UC Davis police officers would immediately evacuate students and other campus community members susceptible to a threat. She also said the university is in the process of obtaining a new emergency notification system that would be able to instantly send messages to cell phones, landline phones, Blackberrys and pagers.

Lapin also said several UC Davis faculty members are connected to Virginia Tech.

Mark McNamee, a former dean of what used to be the Division of Biological Sciences at UC Davis, left the university after 26 years of service to take a position as provost of Virginia Tech in 2001, she said.

Michael Parella, an assistant dean in UC Davis' College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is an alumnus of Virginia Tech. He was scheduled to accept an alumni award at the school this Friday, Lapin said, and Brad Fenwick, a former American Council on Education fellow at UC Davis, is currently the vice president for research at Virginia Tech.

"Our hearts go out to [them]," she said.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, some UC Davis students expressed varying reactions.

"It doesn't really affect how I feel here," said sophomore managerial economics major McKenzie Bryan. "[It's] tragic, [but] it's very uncommon. I'm much more likely to die from a shark attack or lightning.

"I really believe that if we did not have 'gun-free zones' or really strict gun control, there could have been people on that campus that could have stopped the shooter right after he got started, way before the SWAT teams got there," he said. "[But] no, I don't feel any more unsafe. Nothing's really changed."

In a statement released to the entire UC Davis campus community, Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef reminded students to be aware of their environment.

"Be sensitive to your surroundings and report any suspicions to the campus police department," he wrote. "Be familiar with campus policies related to emergency response. Bookmark the campus's homepage (ucdavis.edu), and emergency services webpage (ucdavis.edu/help/emergency_services.html), where breaking news related to emergencies on campus will be posted. With your help, we can best ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of all members of our campus community."

Students who would like to discuss their reactions to the Virginia Tech shootings should contact UC Davis' Counseling and Psychological Services at 752-0871 or visit its office in 219 North Hall.

Any suspicious activity on campus should be reported to the UC Davis Police Department by calling 9-1-1 from campus phones or 752-1230 from any phone.

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Original Source:<a href=http://media.www.californiaaggie.com/media/storage/paper981/news/2007/04/17/CampusNews/Uc.Davis.Responds.To.Virginia.Tech.Shootings-2846057.shtml>The California Aggie - April 17, 2007</a>


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Sara Hood

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The California Aggie

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2007-08-23

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Sara Hood

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Eddie Lee <editor@californiaaggie.com>

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eng

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Sara Hood, "UC Davis responds to Virginia Tech shootings," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1207, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/1207 (accessed October 23, 2014).