Area colleges turn to technology in "active shooter" situations

Area colleges turn to technology in "active shooter" situations

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In less than 24 hours, two college campuses had to be shut down amid reports of a possible shooting.

Early Thursday, Mississippi State students poured out of campus buildings in pure chaos, in what was determined to be an active shooter situation.  A student was later arrested, after threatening to harm himself and others.

No one was injured.

Late Thursday, it was a much different scene on the campus of Savannah State University, where junior Christopher Starks was killed, after someone shot him inside the University student union.

"It's tough," said College of Charleston junior Rachel Starling, reacting to news of the shooting.

"It's scary being in a city that's a college town."

Area universities, including the College of Charleston, Charleston Southern, The Citadel, and SC State University have all turned to technology in the event of an active shooter situation.

All have branded it's own cell phone alert system, which starts with a warning message, then instructions on what student and staff should do next.

Starling referenced confusion on the C of C campus earlier this year, after staff mistakenly sent out an alert saying a bomb was found, during a bomb threat.

President Glenn McConnell later said the computer system used pre-programmed alerts.  A glitch, he says, has since been fixed.

The junior said students receive safety updates often, via email, but feared the evacuation plan was unclear to many students.

In an email, a University official sent a copy of flyers posted in buildings around campus, which included emergency procedures for natural disasters, fires, and active shooters.

The College of Charleston and Charleston Southern University both have its security staff undergo regular drills, specific to an active shooter situation.  CSU, held one it's training sessions, in conjunction with the North Charleston Police Department.

"We're the college, but we're also the city," Starling said.

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