WMU students question school over lack of alert during Kalamazoo shootings

Posted at 3:44 PM, Feb 21, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Western Michigan University students  shaken up by Saturday night's mass shooting in Kalamazoo have been asking why the school's alert system didn't warn them of the situation, while university officials are now admitting they "failed" to provide adequate updates.

Six people were killed and two were seriously injured in three separate shootings Saturday night.  The shootings started at a Kalamazoo apartment complex around 6:00 p.m. Later, police said the shooter opened fire at two other locations between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.  The suspect, Jason Dalton, was taken into custody in downtown Kalamazoo at about 12:30 a.m.

WMU President John Dunn said in a statement Sunday the alert system is set up to warn students when there is a credible threat to the campus and those on the campus.  Just one of the three shootings, the second in the series, happened near the WMU campus, while the other two happened miles from campus, he said.

"I was pretty upset, pretty shocked and also pretty scared that we weren’t being aware," Emily Fisher, a freshman at WMU told FOX 17. "I think if there was a campus shooter on campus the community would be alerted, and yet there's a shooter within the community and a campus wasn’t being alerted of what was happening."

Dunn said that until 11:30 p.m., campus safety personnel were not aware the three shootings were linked.  Dunn said the campus public safety chief was preparing to be briefed by other agencies when Dalton was taken into custody downtown.

"We're tremendously saddened by the senseless acts of violence," Dunn said in a statement.

"As we review information now surfacing, I understand the concern and respect the input. Clearly, we failed last night to provide adequate information and updates."

The incident Saturday night shows the university needs to make adjustments in their procedures, Dunn said, adding that officials will be reviewing their guidelines.  He said the university is also looking at more effective ways to use social media to alert students.

A university wide forum is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Monday in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center to respond to questions and get input.

"It was scary to think that there were other fellow students walking around when they could’ve been shot," said Brittany Fox, a WMU student. "To think that there’s someone out there who can calmly pick some up and drive them wherever they want to after a mass shooting, it’s unbelievable."