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Police Presence Causes Widespread Confusion, With No Emerging Clarity

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m.

He had just gotten out of class on Tuesday night. As he got to his car in the Fermanian parking garage, he received a call from one of his Goodwin residents. Gabe Richardson, a senior international relations and global business management major, answered his phone to first hear about a situation on campus.  

“He was calling me asking if I had any idea about what was going on,” said Richardson, “and why there were cops with guns on campus and a helicopter circling the campus. I had no idea what was going on, so I told him to stay where he was and I would text my RD and the other RA team members to find out any details.”

Richardson’s team members responded quickly, but told him that there wasn’t much information and to advise people to stay inside. According to Richardson, as he drove back to his hall he saw multiple police officers walking toward Flex apartments. When he reached the cross by the entrance of the school, there were cop cars and police officers working with public safety.

“A couple minutes later Pub Safe sent out an email and text that campus was all clear,” Richardson said. “Once that happened I went back up to the caf to get dinner with some of my residents and everything went back to normal again.”

Jordan Peek, a freshman literature major and volunteer at the Writer’s Symposium, saw five policemen with large weapons walking toward her. According to Peek, they asked if she had seen anyone on campus with a weapon.

“There was a lot of confusion,” Peek said. “No one really knew what was happening… Eventually everyone came by and said It’s all clear, but it was very confusing, because everyone was saying It’s all good, but there were also tons of people with weapons watching everything.”

Isabella Dempsey, a sophomore English education major and Hendricks RA, was in class during the incident.

“Our RDs will usually just reach out to us and empower us to be calming presences on our halls until things are safe again in those types of scenarios,” said Dempsey. “We follow the same protocol that the rest of the students follow and are encouraged to stay in the dorm buildings as a resource.”

6:53 p.m.

A PLNU Alert went out to students saying, “SDPD responded to a Point Loma campus on report of suspicious activity. SDPD investigated and has given all clear. No threat to campus.”

7:01 p.m.

The Writer’s Symposium event, featuring writer Nnedi Okorafor, was scheduled to begin at 7pm. According to Twitter and Instagram comments,  some were told the event was cancelled, and cars were turned away from coming onto the PLNU campus due to “suspicious activity.” The Writer’s Symposium social media pages began posting that the event had not been cancelled.

7:13 p.m.

Students began tweeting frustrations with the lack of communication from PLNU. Twitter user Steven Dols, a junior computer science major, tweeted at PLNU saying, “students have a right to know when their safety is potentially in jeopardy.”

According to Dols, he chose to take to Twitter because he felt it was a medium in which the university would acknowledge student concerns.

“It felt as though the university was trying to downplay a situation that our students are very sensitive to,” Dols said.

“I chose to respond to the situation on Twitter because I felt that it was a medium in which the university would actually acknowledge students’ concerns,” Dols said.

Wednesday, February 20, 4:29 p.m.

Mark Ryan, Director of Public Safety, sent an email to the PLNU Community about the suspicious activity.

The email stated that the SDPD received a call about a firearm on campus, while the Department of Public Safety received a call about a verbal threat from a non-student to another campus guest.

“While the threat of a firearm was quickly determined to be unfounded by SDPD,” Ryan wrote, “I know the heavy police presence and the confusion around conflicting reports was stressful for many in our community. It can be very difficult not to receive immediate information. Once SDPD confirmed they were clearing the scene, DPS sent out an “all clear” notification.”

Written by Point Loma Nazarene University students Emilyn Giddings and Kylie Miller.


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Emilyn Giddings

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