ASU to form group to look at campus security

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials with Arkansas State University said a group of people will discuss possible safety measures after Friday morning's fatal shooting of a student at Collegiate Park Apartments. Friday's shooting was the third crime involving a gun and student at the apartment complex in the last year. According to Dr. Rick Stripling, university officials will meet later this week to review security throughout the campus.

"Later in the week, we hope to be able to form a group to take a look at the campus and just look at the safety measures. Things that could be in place to help make it a safer campus," said Stripling. "At this point, we're not going to rule out anything when it comes to safety. There are 12,000 students here and it's a pretty good size campus in the sense that we want each individual to be safety conscious."

Several students who live at the apartment complex said Friday they were concerned another shooting would happen. Many students who do not live on campus said Monday they were not worried about their safety.

"I'm very concerned. You know, I just mostly go to my classes but I wish that, you know, I know that campus police do all they can but if there was somehow they could stay on campus longer, I think it'd be safer," said Don Singleton, junior psychology major. "It doesn't really matter if it's on campus or the dorm or the quads. It's just one of those situations that was bound to happen sooner or later."

Singleton said he found out about Friday's shooting seven hours after it happened through a friend. He said he's heard about several incidents.

"I've just heard. Last summer, I heard that there was a shooting here at Collegiate Park and I've heard about a few robberies, like people breaking into people's cars and stuff like that," said Singleton, who believed police officers should live in apartment dwellings.

"Just the presence of knowing somebody is around. I think that'd be a big improvement," said Singleton. "I've always seen them walking down and patrolling the apartments. I've always seen two or three cars at a time, so you know, they're doing their job."

Stripling said ASU police have a difficult time in the investigation process because many students do not come forward with information when it's available.

"It's important to come forward in the sense that if they have something obviously they're going to ask questions about the details of it. How did you come with this name or is it just some name that's just given," said Stripling.

In September of 2008, a student reported her window broken at Kays Hall. Police did not find any evidence of shell casings or bullet holes, but the student said the window was shot out because she heard a gunshot.

In March of 2009, a student reported an armed robbery at Collegiate Park. The university issued two campus security alerts after the crime. No one was hurt.

On July 27, 2010, police responded to another shooting at Collegiate Park, building three. The university also sent out campus security notices then.

"It's a high priority. If you look nationally at college campuses, there are more of these types of crimes that are actually being committed so making sure that the environment is a safe environment because students elect to come here, that's important to us," said Stripling. "Our campus is a fairly open campus so being able to address, where are the critical safety needs. That's the key,"

Then Friday, April 16, 2010, police responded to apartment six at Collegiate Park to find Michael Gilmore, 24, Helena-West Helena lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head. Gilmore died the following morning at The Med in Memphis. Police said the suspect or suspects are still at large.

"You can have highly concentrated areas which obviously have more people, and therefore one can assume that that may have some bearing because of hi9hgly concentrated people," said Stripling. "Maybe doing something that's out of normal, out of character for maybe the timing, maybe it's early in the morning or something. And so our folks would be glad to come to any groups, talk about those safety measures, talk about what to do in classrooms."

ASU Police Chief Jim Chapman said Friday via phone that students with information need to come forward.

"Any one of these can be a collective piece for the whole picture. And so that's important for anybody to come forward. Tell us what you got and they'll ask questions about the details of how you got that information," said Stripling. "In this particular situation, this was one that it was not a random shooting. We know that. And it was more isolated so with that, again, as you're living in the areas on campus, we have resident assistants who are there. We have them all over the campus that you can also tell them things that you may see."

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