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In wake of campus violence, ASU to review emergency response policies

 by Matt Stone
 published on Tuesday, April 17, 2007

/issues/news/700860
 

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ASU officials plan to review University emergency response policies following the massacre at Virginia Tech Monday where at least 33 people, including a gunman, were killed in the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

"In an effort to constantly improve these plans, University officials conduct reviews on a regular basis and study incidents that have occurred at other schools, and we will certainly study the incident at Virginia Tech at the appropriate time," ASU spokeswoman Leah Hardesty said in a statement.

The University is also offering counseling services to students, she added.

ASU President Michael Crow sent an e-mail to students Monday afternoon offering condolences.

"In the aftermath, our hearts and minds turn to all those impacted by this awful turn of events, and our extended ASU family conveys its deepest sympathies to everyone affected," he said. "We share in the grief of our colleagues at VTU, their families and their friends, and offer our thoughts and prayers for their collective healing."

The gunman started the rampage in a dormitory and continued it two hours later in Norris Hall - VT's engineering science and mechanics building - before committing suicide.

In a report by Virginia Tech's campus paper The Collegiate Times, VT police chief Wendell Flinchum stated the doors to Norris Hall had been chained.

This incident is going to be used as a learning experience both for students and police, said Cmdr. James Hardina of ASU police.

"Once everything is settled and we can figure out what happened at Virginia Tech, what we'll do from a tactical standpoint is, 'How can we incorporate the lessons learned to make our response better?'" he said.

Currently, ASU police, along with police departments near the University, run simulations dealing with this type of situation, Hardina said.

"We actually do physical training simulations in buildings on campus," he said.

Sgt. Mike Horn of Tempe police said that the city is ready for such a situation.

"Should anything happen like this on campus at ASU, we would be ready and prepared to assist the ASU police department," he said.

As far as concern of copycat shooters go, Horn said that concern started since the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 that resulted in 15 deaths.

To try and duplicate the incident now would be more difficult, Hardina said.

"It would be more difficult for a copycat because now everyone is hyper vigilant," he said.

Alex Hall, a kinesiology sophomore, described the incident as "insane."

While he said he's always felt safe on campus, the massacre makes him wonder.

"You relate it back to your own life," he said. "What if that would happen here with this huge-ass school?"

Virginia Tech has more than 26,000 enrolled students, compared to ASU's more than 50,000 at the Tempe Campus.

Aubrey Godfrey, a sociology senior, said she didn't think much of the incident when she first heard about it.

Now that it has set in, she's trying not to get too worked up, Godfrey added.

"If I start thinking about it, I kind of freak myself out," she said. "I heard someone scream and I was like, 'What's going on?'"

While the shootings occurred more than 2,000 miles from ASU, Undergraduate Student Government is preparing a candlelight vigil.

USG officials hope to work with ASU police for the event Thursday at 7 p.m. on Hayden Lawn, said James Quinn, USG premier events coordinator.

"[We want to] make sure everyone is aware in the event of a shooting," Quinn said.


Reach the reporter at: matthew.g.stone@asu.edu.



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