JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University officials told Region 8 News Monday they're looking into reports that the emergency alert system didn't work. Several students Region 8 News interviewed Monday morning said they didn't receive text messages through the campus' notification system. This came after a shooting at Collegiate Park early Saturday morning.
"It's important in different realms because the immediacy of it is our priority. Making sure that they do know what has occurred on campus and as we've seen things occur across the country, things are very important to notify based on the gravity of what they are," said Dr. Rick Stripling, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.
Region 8 News obtained 2 e-mails sent out less than an hour after the shooting.
The first, sent out at 1:48 AM, reads: "THERE HAS BEEN A SHOOTING AT COLLEGIATE PARK BLDG 3. DESCRIPTION OF SUSPECTS: TWO BLACK MALES. 1 MEDIUM BUILD, RED SHIRT, BLUE JEANS, BLACK DOO RAG, BLACK HAT. THE OTHER SKINNY, DOO RAG (NO COLOR GIVEN), WHITE SHIRT, JEANS, TATTOO ON NECK (WHICH SIDE NO KNOWN), UNKNOWN DIRECTION OF TRAVEL."
The second was abbreviated. It was sent at 2:19 AM. "SHOOTING @ COLL PK BLDG 3. 2 SUSPECTS: BLK MALES, MED&SKINNY, DOO RAGES, JEANS, RED SHIRT, WHI SHIRT, BLK HAT, UNK DIRECTION OF TRAVEL."
Stripling said only 1 student complained to the university about not receiving a text message, but that student didn't have the phone turned on.
"There's some notification that obviously went out and what we do is we go back and we look and as a part of that, there could be that a person is first not logged in, you do have to be logged in and put your number in the system. Also we go back to see what carriers they use to check and make sure that's working. Your phone, if you have your phone off, there could be a possibility there, or if you're out of signal, there could be possibility there," said Stripling.
According to Stripling, an estimated 4,000 students attend class during summer terms. University Police posted Campus Security Notifications on nearly all entrances and exits to buildings on campus the morning of the shooting.
"I think it reinforces peoples thought processes about their own safety and security. Obviously if you get a knock at your home door at one in the morning, you're not apt to answer that and you're more likely to call the police and that's what we encourage our folks to do as well," said Chief Jim Chapman.
Julian Green is a freshman student from Forrest City. He said his fiancé is registered on the campus security alert system but didn't receive Saturday's notice.
"This is a campus shooting. I'm pretty sure they need to let the students know that there is a shooter on the loose. It's a very hostile environment right now and that was a pretty serious situation and we didn't get an e-mail or any type of alert," said Green.
Green said he'd like to know of shootings or other crimes an hour or so after they happen. Green said it was 13 hours after the shooting before he read the notice at the school library.
"The campus alert system is basically where if the police department has your phone number, they send you a text alerting you of new events that have taken place like the campus shooting, but unfortunately this weekend she didn't receive a text message. We found out because we went to the library Saturday morning to do a little homework and we seen the post up on the window and we felt that was kind of odd seeing how we didn't get a text message," said Green.
"It kind of makes me feel like, maybe the system is faulty and it makes me feel a little bit more unsafe," said Nikki Rutherford, ASU student.
Rutherford said she didn't know anything about a shooting on campus until Region 8 News informed her Monday morning. She said she has gotten text messages in the past about criminal incidents.
"You just told me. Yes, I had no idea. I didn't receive anything this weekend," said Rutherford.
Chapman said the system is better than what was in place beforehand.
"Nothing is fail proof. Anytime you're dealing with electronics, there's an opportunity for failure there. When you're dealing with text message, cell phone system, if they have anything down at the time, that could be a fault for it, but I think for the time being, it's fairly reliable and something we use," said Chapman.
Stripling said staff checked the emergency alert system Monday morning. The system is checked once each month and after each emergency.
"When we have issues that come up on campus, we go back and look at the total package and we go back from the beginning and look at everything we need to do. What we also need to modify, what we need to correct, just to make sure that we're prepared in the future," said Stripling. "Every time we do use it, we go back and look and see if we have anything that goes wrong. If there's a human error that's in there, we go back and check that."
Stripling said he is concerned any time there is an incident on campus.
"There's a lot of nuances that even once it's sent out from the university, then still can be some things that can happen," said Stripling.
To register your handheld device for emergency alerts, click here.