By Kenneth Rosen
Questions about student safety and security arose Thursday when a gunman downtown purportedly took a Savannah resident hostage ending in a standoff with local authorities at the Olde Pink House, an area heavily populated by students.
In a section of downtown where the school occupies three buildings — Jen Library, Propes Hall and Bradley Hall — a gunman ran after being shot at by local law enforcement and took to hiding in the Olde Pink House in Reynolds Square. Buildings across “campus” were shutdown and students were told not to leave or change classes while others were turned away.
Students were notified of the emergency through Blackboard’s Connect system that allows the school to notify students, parents, faculty and staff of emergencies as they occur.
“We had a plan in place,” Philip Alletto, vice president for Student Success, said. “We were taking our direction from the SCMPD in terms of what should be asked of the students.”
Students received alerts from the school through social media along with the standard text messages and phone call alerts. Their Facebook and Twitter accounts posted the same messages as the emergency alerts system while answering questions and reposting pertinent updates from local news sources.
At a question and answer session late Thursday, police chief Willie Lovett deferred an inquiry about the department’s communication with the school to their public information officer Julian Moore.
“We were in touch with SCAD and they were in touch with us.”
But Jeff Smith, college transportation and security manager, said he’d driven past the scene and learned of the occurrence that way.
“In situations like that the police normally call us,” he said in a phone interview today. “Their main focus in that situation is to focus on catching the bad guy.”
School officials urge students to update their contact information when prompted on Blackboard to do so.
Though the men involved in the shooting and kidnapping have been apprehended, the investigation is ongoing.Contact Kenneth Rosen.