By Alysa Berry, Shappelle Marshall and Joi Davidson
The shooting that took place on campus on Oct. 23 has made many students uneasy but has resulted in new safety measures across campus.
The university’s administration announced the introduction of the Falcon Watch Program at a mass meeting held to address campus safety on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The program is one of the new measures taken to ensure student safety on campus. Saint Augustine’s University Campus Security, the Division of Student Affairs, the Dean of Students, and the Student Government Association organized the program.
Its members consist of campus and community volunteers, and it focuses on the importance of reporting any suspicious or harmful activity. Dean of Students and Student Integrity Ann Brown emphasized the need for everyone if they “see something, say something,” which is the tagline for the program. She explained that it will also try to provide fun, engaging, and educational activities such as campus safety-themed block parties and self-defense courses.
The shooting incident happened because a nonstudent came on campus, according to Lieutenant Steven Jacobs of the Saint Augustine’s University Division of Public Safety. Jacobs said the shooting is still under investigation but said he wants students to know that the campus is safe and under strict security measures 24 hours a day, from the front gate to the back of the school.
“We have to protect our people to make sure these shootings do not happen again,” Jacobs said.
The incident occurred in the Falkcrest Apartments between 11 p.m. and 12 midnight. Two men who were not affiliated with the university were injured, according to Raleigh police.
No students were injured however the incident caused alarm. Shawn Richardson-Lane lives in Falkcrest apartments in the suite directly above where the incident occurred. He was in the process of completing homework and was ordering food when shots rang out below him.
“I feared for my life that night,” he said. “I thought the shooter was on my floor because the sound was so close, and people were running on the balcony.”
Richardson-Lane said he still thinks about the incident, “If I hear somebody running on this floor or if I hear gunshots on TV or on a movie, I just think about that night. However, I do give God praise for keeping myself and many others on this campus safe that night.”
Robert Walker resides in the suite directly beside where the incident occurred. A stray bullet entered his suite and, fortunately, none of his suitemates nor himself was injured. He said he was washing dishes when he heard the shots fired.
When he discovered that one of the bullets went through his suite, he said his initial reaction was a state of shock, but he was grateful that the bullet didn’t hit anyone.
He added, “I absolutely believe that my safety is a concern especially because of the fact that I had nothing to do with the situation and my life was threatened. This incident has put me a little on edge, but my mental state is quite fine.”
Other students are raising concerns about safety on the SAU app.
Campus Police Chief Charles L. Simpson Jr. said officers will be patrolling the campus more and implementing new techniques to combat crime that comes in from the surrounding neighborhood, such as the installation of emergency blue lightboxes, a visible bright blue pillar that connects students to campus security with the press of a button. He encouraged students to walk in pairs and be aware of their surroundings when traveling off-campus, particularly at night.