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UIW Students Say Alert Of Reported Gunman Came Too Late

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The University of the Incarnate Word

The University of the Incarnate Word’s police department says it plans to use Tuesday night’s two false reports of a gunman on campus as a learning experience. 

Twenty-year-old Mason Nobles was in his dorm room late Tuesday night when he saw armed police and canines roaming the halls. “I woke up around 11, 11:15 and my friend says 'Hey, there’s helicopters out,'” he said.

Those police helicopters were looking for a possible gunman on the campus. But it would be an hour before Nobles would receive a campus-text message called a rave alert. “Our school did a poor job on alerting,” he added.

It turns out there was no gunman - a member of the cleaning staff saw a security guard with a flashlight.

That was the second time during the evening that UIW officials responded to reports of a gunman on campus. Earlier, around 6:30 that evening, Maria Longoria was in lab class when police received two calls about a man carrying two rifles. 

“We were all hearing things on Twitter and people were texting us to stay in our class. We were telling our teacher this and she was like ‘The school hasn’t posted anything yet, so I don’t want to take it too seriously yet. And we were like, 'It seems pretty serious,'” she said.

Both Nobles and Longoria say police did an excellent job of securing the campus but outreach needs improvement.

UIW Police Chief Robert Chavez says police were trying to get the facts before sending out alerts. “In an incident like this, without confirmation, if there was a real shooter, no one from law enforcement actually saw this person," Chavez said. "So that was the main thing for us was trying to verify that and not cause a big panic and a stir.”

But he agrees a message could have been sent out sooner. As UIW reviews the way it communicated with students and the media, other area schools are educating students and staff on what to do if faced with armed attackers.  St. Phillips College held a training session Tuesday.