By Lucas Vacco
On Oct. 12, two emergency alerts were sent out to the campus community after a College employee reported to Campus Police that two civilians in Campus Town had a rifle. The rifle was eventually identified as a non-lethal paintball gun by Campus Police, but students were still concerned for their safety.
The first emergency alert sent at 12:57 p.m. stated the following: “Campus Police received a report of two males, one reportedly carrying a rifle, in the vicinity of Pastadoro in Campus Town. Campus Police are investigating. Be alert and report any info to 609-771-2345.”
After determining the weapon was a paintball gun, a second emergency alert was sent to the campus community at 1:26 p.m.: “Following an investigation, Campus Police have concluded that the rifle spotted in Campus Town was non-lethal.”
The College's emergency response guide entails the steps that are needed to be taken when aware of a weapon on campus. It is strongly recommended to call campus police like the College’s employee did, according to the Chief of the College’s Campus Police Services Timothy Grant. It is always encouraged by the Campus Police to “say something if they see something.”
After Campus Police was made aware of the situation, officers were sent to the scene, but the two men left by the time Campus Police arrived. Grant explained that through a tenant’s security footage, it was clear that there was a weapon in the civilians’ vehicle.
“The vehicle returned to the area after being alerted to the TCNJ text warning. Upon returning to Campus Town, TCNJ Campus Police Services identified the vehicle and were able to determine that the weapon in question was a paintball gun that closely resembled a rifle,” Grant said.
Although this was only a paintball gun, students were initially nervous and feared that their safety was at risk. Junior English liberal arts major Emily Otworth said she worried for her friends that were on campus and felt that the situation could have been worse if the threat involved a lethal weapon.
“[Campus Police] could have been more descriptive with their messages and assured students that they were already patrolling to figure out who was on campus,” Otworth said.
Like Otworth, junior art history and visual culture major Sapphire Srigley felt that the wording of the second alert was not clear.