Zach Thomann, Sports Editor, and Samuel Northrup, Editor-in-Chief
Students at Utica College were in the middle of classes on Monday when a “veiled threat” was received over the phone that an assailant was in Gordon Science Center. According to the Utica Police Department, the message conveyed by the caller was “come get me.”
Shortly after 11 a.m., a lockdown procedure that would last nearly six hours was announced through a campus-wide email. As part of UC’s protocol, students, faculty and staff were advised to remain in place prior to being moved to designated “safe zones” – the Clark Athletic Center and the Strebel Student Center.
Despite conflicting reports, the UPD reported no shots fired, injuries or suspects apprehended after local, state and federal law enforcement arrived on the scene and searched each building on the campus.
“It’s something else to experience an event like this,” Austin Reeves, a sophomore, said. “It’s one thing to see it happen on the news, but when it happens in person, it’s a feeling you can’t imagine.”
Reeves was worried for his peers while he remained barricaded inside his classroom, located in the lower level of Faculty Center, for the duration of the lockdown.
“My mom texted me, my grandma and my friends from back home all showed their concern for me saying reports were coming from all over the place,” he said.
For Reeve’s classmate and fellow sophomore Daniela Hannah, the scare on campus hits close to her home in Dalton, Georgia where a school shooting scare occurred just last week.
“It is scary and weird that this would happen here and in my hometown,” Hannah said. “I’m just glad that my friends are safe and the class I was in remained safe, too.”
Hannah is thankful for technology, which helped her and her class to stay informed after being one of the last areas to be evacuated to Clark Athletic Center.
“Without our phones, I’m not sure if we would have known about the threat, which is scary to think about,” she said.
Following the day’s events, both Reeves and Hannah believe that action needs to be done to prevent future safety issues on school campuses but are not sure how much progress the country and government can make towards reformed gun legislation and safety measures.
“It’s a huge problem,” Reeves said. “Not just for New York but for the entire country, I think this needs to be a high priority for the government because if we don’t make a change, the violence will continue.”
The lockdown was lifted shortly after 5 p.m., allowing non-residential students and faculty to return home, while residential students returned to dorms.
Just prior to the conclusion of the lockdown, Deputy Police Chief Ed Noonan and President Laura Casamento addressed members of the media in a public statement via Utica College’s official Facebook page.
Noonan confirmed the investigation is ongoing following every building on campus being “checked and secured.”
“We’re working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate this matter,” Noonan said. “I have to say that the Utica College administration, their public safety, have been extremely helpful within this investigation. It’s gone very well, however, it is an active investigation.”
Following Noonan, Casamento thanked students, faculty and staff for “their tremendous patience” and “showing cooperation” with law enforcement.
“Their safety is our number-one priority,” Casamento said. “It will continue to be our number-one priority.”
This is an ongoing story. The Tangerine will continue to provide the latest news and updates regarding Monday’s lockdown.