COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Early Saturday morning, a campus police officer reportedly shot and killed 18-year old University of South Alabama student Gilbert Thomas Collar.
Authorities say he was nude, acting erratically and challenged the officer several times just outside of the campus police department.
MUW Police Chief Danny Patton says his officers work hard to recognize students who may be struggling.
“On this team, we identify students that are missing class, their grades have dropped. We try to interact with counselors and make sure that they receive any necessary tools that the University can provide them,” says Patton.
Safety is the number one concern for campus police and local officials say they have created partnerships on campus to decrease the number of student-involved incidents with police. Georgia Lindley, Chief of Police at MSU, says they’ve always focused on how to deal with student behavior.
“We’ve had extensive training on dealing with emotional problems for students for years. We’ve worked closely with the counseling center. They know all of us, we know all of them. We do an annual training with the police staff and with the radio dispatchers on an annual basis,” says Lindley.
Chief Patton also says use of force can be necessary in certain situations but their response is the key to how the situation may be resolved.
“All of our officers have been trained in responding to potentially volatile situations. You only use enough force necessary to subdue that individual,” says Patton.
The South Alabama officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete. Gilbert Thomas Collar was a freshman at the University of South Alabama.