MTSU shooting prompts examination of alert system - WKRN News 2

MTSU shooting prompts examination of alert system

While schools officials were waiting on accurate information, students think the initial alert should've been sent out faster. While schools officials were waiting on accurate information, students think the initial alert should've been sent out faster.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Thousands of students, faculty and staff at Middle Tennessee State University count on an emergency alert system to keep them safe.

That system was put to the test on Valentine's Day after a student allegedly shot and injured another person on the MTSU campus.

While police searched for a shooting suspect on campus, MTSU officials scrambled to gather accurate information about the situation and send out mass texts, emails and voicemails.

Tom Tozer, director of MTSU's News and Public Affairs office told Nashville's News 2, "The idea is to get information out quickly, but as accurately as possible, too."

The first 911 call came in to police at 11:20 a.m. Monday. The first alert was sent out 32 minutes after the shooting occurred, at 11:52 a.m.

Tozer said, "That was taken up with conversation with the chief, with getting into the system, waiting for the system to come up, and determining how we were going to phrase the initial message."

Some students, like sophomore Christopher Kandt, think the initial alert about a shooting on campus should have been sent out much faster.

"It's great to have the information," said Kandt. "Obviously it being there is a good thing, but the execution could be a little more efficient."

Since practically every student has a cell phone with them at all times, the university knows updated information is expected as soon as possible.

But in a situation where they rely on the police to confirm what is happening, Tozer said the process can sometimes take a little longer.

"You can't prevent those moments of just everybody kind of wondering and guessing," said Tozer. "If we put out inaccurate information quickly, that does more damage than putting out something accurate with a little bit more time."

University officials met in the 24 hours following the shooting to talk about how the system worked and told Nashville's News 2 they are generally happy with the result.

"There's always opportunities for refinement and improvement, and we'll work on those things," added Tozer.

MTSU began using this alert system in September 2007.

Murfreesboro police said Monday's shooting stemmed from an argument between MTSU junior Justin Macklin and non-student Austin Morrow.

They said Macklin shot Morrow in the hand.

Macklin was booked into the Rutherford County jail on charges of aggravated assault and possession of marijuana.

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