Rumors of a gunman circulated throughout the Arkansas Tech University community on Monday night, and after confusion from many students, public safety released a statement on Tuesday specifying the cause of the chaos.
Though Joshua McMillian, director of public safety, identified the origination of the misunderstanding as an email sent to an athletic coach, several Tech students remained unsatisfied with the Campus Emergency and Outreach Notification (CEON) system.
In a message that arrived to OneTech inboxes at around 6:30 p.m. on Monday, students were assured there was no safety threat on campus at the time. This message came after residence hall workers were told an active shooter was on campus, McMillian said.
“It is our understanding that some students left the athletic facility and went to their residence hall,” McMillian said in a news release. “At that point, residence life staff members were mistakenly told there was an active shooter on campus. In keeping with their policies and procedures, residence hall staff members asked that residents remain in their rooms.”
Stephanie Schmitt, a senior nursing major from Mountain Home, said she knew many students who had not been told there was an active shooter on campus, which made the following CEON message confusing.
“It was quite scared. I was in Caraway about to go to a Phi Mu meeting, and we all had to rush upstairs and turn out the lights,” Schmitt said. “It scared me that almost everyone I texted had no clue it was going on and wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for me.”
Rachel Jackson, a senior graphic design major from Russellville, said she was scared to leave her apartment after the CEON message had been sent because there was no previous warning.
“I had a group of girls with me in my apartment at the Commons. We were all scared,” Jackson said. “We locked the door and turned the lights off and hid in the kitchen. Even after Tech contacted us about everything being OK, I was still scared to leave.”
McMillian said a message was sent out via text message, telephone, social media and email to assure the community there was no safety threat.
“There was not, nor had there been, an active shooter,” McMillian said in the release. “It was an unfounded error.”
According to public safety, the sender of the email is not a member of the Tech community, but he did contain a bomb threat concerning Chartwells Women’s Sports Complex, which houses the softball and tennis teams. In an ongoing investigation, the Arkansas State Police, along with public safely, have questioned the suspect.