Suspected shooter still not apprehended

Alessandro Roco

Early yesterday morning, local police received reports of a man acting suspiciously between Browning Lane and Meadowwood Road, an area directly behind the University’s South Campus. What ensued after is something that has left the campus with many questions.

According to reports on 6ABC and CBS3, multiple shots were fired at police at approximately 4 a.m. yesterday morning. Police from Delaware County, Chester County, Lower Merion and Radnor townships arrived on the scene, setting up a perimeter.

As K-9 units arrived and a state police helicopter provided additional surveillance, police officials also implemented infrared cameras so they could track the suspect. S.W.A.T. teams arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. Reports claimed no one was hit by any shots and that no one was injured.

Police told KYW1060 radio station and 6ABC that approximately ten shots were fired at officers attempting to apprehend a reported backyard prowler. The suspect is described as a stocky, African-American male about 5-foot-11 inches tall wearing a tan knit cap and a blue sweatshirt and a light-colored Insignia bag. Police also told reporters that the suspect is armed and very dangerous.

Complications in the search arose when a Dining Services employee was stopped and questioned by police on his way to work. The worker was descending the train platform of SEPTA’s R100 on his way to work at St. Mary’s dining hall. According to police, the Dining Services employee was stopped because he closely fit the physical description of the suspect. The Dining Services employee was also an African-American male who was approximately six-feet tall with a stocky build and wearing a blue sweatshirt or jacket.

The worker said he put both of his hands in the air and showed identification. He said he did so because he saw the police officers had guns.

“They just checked my ID and let me bounce, but it was kind of scary,” the worker said. “It was early in the morning, I was a little shook.” After the exchange, however, the staff member proceeded to work with no further complications.

In response to yesterday’s events, many local high schools operated under delayed openings, while the Agnes Irwin School, located just down the street from the crime scene, decided to close its doors for the day.

However, at about 10:20 a.m. yesterday, Radnor police declared the area “all clear.” The manhunt has since been called off, but the investigation has just begun, according to officials.

While students may be able to rest a little easier knowing that the manhunt has been called off, the alarming situation for students still lies in the lack of knowledge presented to them at the time following the shooting.

Many students who live on South Campus were awoken yesterday morning to the sight of S.W.A.T. and police cars and helicopters, but no explanation. Others who lived on the other parts of campus had no knowledge of the situation unless they turned on the morning news.

Students were also not informed of the consequences of the situation until 8:30 a.m. yesterday. It was then that CBS3 and CW9 announced that the University’s class schedule would begin with 10:30 a.m. classes. Dean of Students Paul Pugh then sent an e-mail to students at approximately 11 a.m., notifying them that classes would actually start at 11:30 a.m.

Pugh, Vice President of Student Life Rev. John Stack, O.S.A. said there were several reasons for the delay in releasing information.

First, administrators attempted sending an e-mail to students at approximately 8:10 a.m. to notify students that 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. classes would be canceled. Due to problems with the e-mail service, many students only received the e-mail at around 9:30 a.m.

Also, Stack said that administrators wanted to ensure the accuracy of the information before sending it out to students. If that meant that administration would be thought of as “slow” in releasing the information, then that was something Stack could accept.

“In this case, we would’ve rather have been slow with the information than offering bad security,” Stack said.

Stack felt that from a security point, the situation was dealt with appropriately. He was impressed with the collaborative efforts between Public Safety and Radnor police, the effectiveness of the lockdown and the fact that everyone in the South Campus residence halls were kept safe.

However, Stack felt there was one major mistake in how administration dealt with the situation and that was a lack of communication between officials and students.

“We could have sent out an e-mail at around 7 a.m. describing that there was police activity so we could at least give students the heads-up,” Stack said. “There was a clear mistake made in communication.”

For many students, their Wednesday class schedules that begin as early as 8:30 a.m. With no knowledge of the situation from University officials, students were left to wonder what to do and how to act in response to the shooting. Many students, especially those that live on South Campus, were irate over the situation and the University’s inability to inform all students of critical information.

Sophomore Bryan Wagner, a resident of Good Counsel Hall, had a scheduled class at 8:30 a.m. He expressed concern over the fact that a good percentage of students did not know what was going on and that many students only found out about the situation through officers who stopped them in the lobby.

“It was kind of confusing, but I at least understood the situation because it was early,” Wagner said. “What isn’t acceptable is that for my 10:30 class, communication still wasn’t clear. I was getting a lot of phone calls, especially from people who live on Main [campus] because they had no idea what was going on.”

Wagner also mentioned that five of his classmates showed up to the 8:30 a.m. class because they did not know about the cancellation.

Freshman Brienne Aquilina, a resident of Stanford Hall, said that she wished she had been given more knowledge about the situation, given that she was right in the middle of the action.

“The thing that kind of perturbed me was that there was no e-mail at the time indicating what had gone on,” Aquilina said. “I couldn’t find the RAs because everyone was still sleeping. We were kind of on our own. We could’ve gone downstairs and talked to Public Safety, but no one really figured that out because no one wanted to move.”

Junior Katie Fallon criticized administrators for not acting soon enough in trying to keep students as safe as possible.

“It seemed like they were more concerned with keeping quiet as opposed to informing students and worrying about their safety,” Fallon said. “They knew from 4:30 in the morning and didn’t send anything out about it until 9:30. My parents knew about it before me.”

-Kimberly Selway and Kyle Scudilla contributed to this report.