By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Lights and sirens alerted students to a triple shooting in Fort Sanders Tuesday night, but many are frustrated about the lack of response from the University of Tennessee.
Tuesday night just after 8 p.m. police responded to a shooting at an apartment near the intersection of Highland and 13th Street.
They found two victims inside with multiple gunshot wounds and just down the street, they discovered a third person with a gunshot wound. They say that person was the shooter.
The shooting call came in at 8:11 p.m., while UT sent out an email alert at 8:29 p.m.
It read: "A person with a firearm was reported to be in the vicinity of 13th and Highland Ave. The person is described as a black male accompanied by three other black males, all wearing dark hooded sweatshirts. Police are investigating."
It was a frightening message for freshman Sydney Pashley.
"My first thing I thought was this is crazy. That's so close to campus. But the way that they worded it, I wasn't too freaked out because they basically just said he has a gun and he was spotted," said Pashley.
It wasn't until she looked on Twitter and realized the situation was much more serious.
"I felt like it was misinformation from UT, or lack of information. I felt like they were wording it in a very simplistic way, like nothing was going on," Pashley said.
At 8:33 p.m., some students received a text alert with a similar message.
The second email wasn't sent until 10:18 p.m., with still no mention of a shooting.
It wasn't until 12:01 a.m., long after the news of a triple shooting had been reported, that UT sent out another email.
It read: "Knoxville Police Department is investigating a shooting inside an apartment at Highland Terrace Apartments, on the corner of 13th Street and Highland Avenue that occurred after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
"Officers and emergency responders arrived to find a male and female suffering gunshot wounds. A third victim later was discovered near the corner of 21st Street and Highland Avenue."
Upset students were posting on the 6 News Facebook page with questions; we took their concerns to UT Police.
"Whenever there's a serious crime that could affect the safety of the student staff and faculty on campus, we have the ability to send a text about what's going on," explained Sgt. Cedric Roach.
We asked them how their alert system works and why it took so long to report the shooting.
"Information is always coming in and going out. It's a very fluid situation, so as soon as we get information that we can verify, then we will send it out. It's not always as immediate as we would like," he explained.
The other concern for students was the message in one of the emails advising students, "As a last resort, and only if your life is in danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter. RUN, HIDE, FIGHT."
Students soon began joking about the message on Twitter, turning "RUN, HIDE, FIGHT" into a hashtag. Sgt. Cedric Roach says that message is actually a slogan used during active shooter situations.
"With an incident like last night, the message that best fit the situation was 'RUN, HIDE, FIGHT'," explained Sgt. Roach. "We also have a program that we teach to students and faculty about what to do in an active situation and that's part of that training."
UTPD says if students didn't receive a text alert, it's because they have not signed up. Anyone with a current UT email address will receive the email alerts.