TUPD scours campus after gunman appearance

Two Sundays ago on Feb. 2, a disturbance was reported at Stadium Dr. and Mulberry close to the intramural fields and tennis court around 7:15 p.m. The person  causing the disturbance was reported to be standing at the intersection with a shotgun in tow.

By the time TUPD got to the location of the suspect, the suspect was no longer there. TUPD has an obligation to respond to reports that happen within the vicinity of Trinity campus. That includes perimeter streets encompassing campus.

An email sent by TUPD at 7:39 p.m. on Feb. 2 cautioned the Trinity community, asking them “to remain vigilant and take extra personal security precautions, such as avoiding dim lit areas, walking alone, and being aware of suspicious persons.”

“There was no direction of flight. It was unknown whether they were affiliated with Trinity or if they left on campus or what the circumstances were,” said Paul Chapa, Trinity University Chief of Police.

Because the disturbance was so close to campus, TUPD sent out an email to alert students about the potential danger.

“We sent out the TrinAlert message to the community that said this disturbance happened off campus with a gun, and we’re checking the area. Be mindful of your surroundings and travel in groups,” Chapa said.

After the email was sent out, TUPD checked the parking lots, surveyed the campus, and searched other areas that would be accessible to someone on foot. “We didn’t see anybody or have any further description to go off of”, Chapa said. Another email was then sent to alert students that there was no threat present on campus.

In the event of a gun disturbance or crime happening in the area, TUPD’s response depends on the circumstances at hand.

“There’s a lot of crime that happens in our area. We’re selective, and we base the notification on the proximity and if there’s any threat or concern to the institution specifically–to students, faculty, or staff,” Chapa said.

TrinAlert is the primary program that TUPD utilizes to keep students, faculty and staff updated on campus safety. A new program, however, will soon be introduced on campus.

Elerts is an app that many universities around the country have already put into place. The app features a way to anonymously report illegal or suspicious behavior to TUPD immediately. The Elerts are directly received by a dashboard in their dispatch. The app will give students better access to contacting TUPD than the access the blue phones placed around campus currently offer.

“It’s a proactive way for TUPD to break down some of those walls and encourage students to communicate with TUPD,” said Michelle Bartonico, director of marketing communications.

Elerts also features a virtual escort that one can use when walking to and from places on campus at night. The app tracks the location of the user so that police can respond if anything were to happen. The Elerts app is now available for students to download on iPhone or Android.

“What it will hopefully encourage  people to do is be more aware of occurrences on campus. There isn’t really a high volume of any sort of incidences, but having the tools will help people know how to communicate if they need it,” Bartonico said.