Flags were lowered to half-staff last week after an 18-year-old student on Northern Arizona University’s campus killed a classmate and wounded three other students when he opened fire during a confrontation Oct. 9, in the latest shooting to hit a U.S. school, according to authorities.
According to NAU’s campus Police Chief Gregory Fowler in a statement, the suspected gunman, Steven Jones, freshman, was taken into custody following the shooting.
Jones was charged with first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault and was ordered $2 million bond at a brief court appearance. Fowler’s statement said Jones pulled the handgun after a confrontation with several students.
Following the shootings in Oregon at Umpqua Community College, after a gunman opened fire in a classroom killing nine people, more schools are evaluating their campus safety procedures and mental health services to ensure the security of students.
At Florida Southern College, President Anne Kerr said every situation is different.
“We have done all we can to be prepared to handle the unthinkable,” Kerr said. “You can’t plan for it, so all you can do is be as prepared as possible, should the unthinkable happen.”
During the summer several updates for a safer campus were completed. Faculty and staff were also required to attend active shooter trainings that will be continuing into the fall semester.
“What we did this summer was require all faculty and staff to attend a seminar on an active shooter,” Kerr said. “Additionally, we have put locks on all of the classroom doors and faculty are now required to have a cell phone in the room and a security escort button.”
In addition to these changes, FSC updated its central siren in the bell tower that can broadcast messages to students such as, run, hide, take cover, or all safe, in the case of an emergency.
Kerr said that the Lakeland Police Department conducts team trainings during the summer in order to cut down on the time that it would take if they ever needed to find a room.
Bill Carew, director of campus safety and security, said that during his eight years at Florida Southern, the campus has never faced any situations threatening students’ safety.
On campus, the college has worked to improve its counseling services. Many outreach programs were added into the counseling centers services, as well as a psychiatrist on retainer.
“Students need to think about being a part of the safety team,” Kerr said. “If you all notice something unusual or see red flags with somebody’s behavior, or if there is a stranger that is showing up who shouldn’t be here, tell us about those things.”
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