CHATTANOOGA, TENN (mocsnews.com) – A little over a year ago, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga officials alerted students and faculty that there was a man with a tactical vest and rifle on campus.
“I never thought it would happen at UTC, and even though it was just a scare, I am just glad that nobody was harmed,” student Tabitha Schofill said.
It comes down to the idea of “it could never happen to me”, and that is exactly what happened at UTC campus on August 28, 2019.
What seemed like a normal day for an off-duty policeman sparked a campus wide crisis for UTC. The report of a suspicious male was made when an off-duty policeman was on his way home after work.
The policeman was retrieving his rifle when he was mistaken for a gunman heading towards UTC’s campus. The UTC and Chattanooga Police Department were quick to launch an investigation. Officers evacuated and searched Fletcher Hall.
The remainder of the campus was not put on lockdown, instead professors were asked to use discretion on whether or not to have class.
“We were informed that there was a gunman on campus, however, none of my classes were canceled. I was actually told to still be on time to class that day,” Schofill said.
No suspicious person was found in Fletcher Hall, but police did a secondary sweep to ensure safety. Forty minutes later, the investigation came to a conclusion that there was no imminent danger and campus was fully operational again.
The Chancellor of the university, Dr. Steve Angle stated, “In retrospect, we should have locked down the campus when the report came in of a possible suspicious person in Fletcher Hall and the Chattanooga Police Department responded in force.”
Angle also added, “We have an emergency operations process in place with specific actions to be taken. While we are thankful that there was not a credible threat on our campus and our students were always safe, there is always an opportunity to assess our actions and consider potential changes to our procedures.”
Since the incident, the University has taken positive strides to ensure the safety of students and faculty. They have asked that all students and staff download UTC ALERT, be aware of protocols and procedures, and access a counselor if needed.
Schofill mentioned that she felt safer knowing the university has adapted and made changes to their protocols and procedures.