Incident ignites rumors on campus; CSS investigating

December 10th, 2009

Rumors of a gunman on John Carroll University’s campus spread after Winter Formal on Dec. 4.

Freshman Ross Bernard heard about the rumors via a text message while in a friend’s dormitory.

“I was hanging out with a friend who got a text from someone saying there are two armed men running around campus,” said Bernard.

The rumor that gunmen were roaming the campus turned out to be false. However, the rumor was the result of an incident involving a group of students and a non-student.

According to Timothy Peppard, director of campus safety services, a group of students coming back from the Winter Formal met the man in the Recplex sometime after midnight. The students believed they saw a gun on the man. They reported it to a resident assistant in Murphy Hall, junior Craig Sidol, who then reported the incident to CSS around 1 a.m.

CSS found the suspect, but no gun. CSS is still investigating the incident and have not confirmed whether or not there was ever a gun present.

“We’re going to talk to every person that was there,” said Peppard. “People have come in to talk to us and we still have people coming in.”

In addition to students, CSS has also talked to the suspect and the suspect’s family.

After the incident was reported, CSS never sent out a text or e-mail to alert students of the situation.

“There was no initial alert sent out because nothing was confirmed,” said Peppard.

CSS generally uses the text and e-mail alert system to notify students of power outages and closings.

According to Peppard, CSS does not send out an alert without confirmation.

“People sometimes overreact to a situation or misinterpretation. We try to get a sense that the threat is real,” said Peppard.

Also, CSS uses the system sparingly so that when an alert does go out to students, they pay attention to it.

Peppard said, “It’s the culture here. JCU is considered a safe campus. We’re in a bubble here. We’ve been very fortunate.”

Bernard felt that CSS still should have warned students about the rumors and that they were false.

“I really didn’t feel to comfortable having to walk back to my room … I feel like CSS definitely should have sent out something letting people know what really happened because I heard a lot of different stories about it and people gossiping about it,” said Bernard.

Peppard said that incidents such as these can be resolved quickly if students report anything suspicious as soon as it happens. It takes long for CSS to investigate when the report comes after the fact.

Currently, CSS is still collecting information and interviewing witnesses.

“We’re eventually going to know more,” said Peppard.