STARKVILLE, Miss. (Press Release) — During three post-event meetings with senior administration officials, the Crisis Action Team and law enforcement, Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum today announced a new initiative designed to enhance the safety and security of the institution in the wake of last week’s active shooter scare on MSU’s Starkville campus.
“As I said last week, there were no guns, no shots fired and no injuries,” said Keenum. “Our university was very fortunate that last week’s event turned out to be threats by a lone individual, but the very real threat of an active shooter on our campus has shown us ways that we can make our campus even safer from and more responsive to such dangers.”
After the incident, Keenum praised campus and local law enforcement for their “swift response” in apprehending a student who made threats to harm himself and others.
During a meeting on Friday [Aug. 28], Keenum challenged MSU’s Crisis Action Team, the Division of Student Affairs, and other senior administrators to learn from the event and develop new strategies to enhance the university’s security.
Subsequent meetings were held Monday [Aug. 31] between the MSU president and the university’s vice presidents. University leaders also met again Monday afternoon with area law enforcement agencies to seek their input.
Keenum asked all involved for input and innovation from all the groups on three primary initiatives – training, locks, and communications – what he called “TLC.”
“Some of these TLC enhancements will be immediate and some will require additional study. But by addressing additional training for MSU faculty, staff, and students, we can become safer and more efficient in our response,” said Keenum. “This event showed us areas where we need additional locks and better ways to block or barricade interior doors. Finally, we need to take a hard look at new and emerging technologies that will improve how we communicate Maroon Alert emergency messages and how law enforcement communicates with each other and with us.”
University officials agreed the TLC security enhancements should be systematic in nature and undertaken in conjunction with state and federal emergency preparedness guidelines, also with the approval of the local and state fire marshals.
“The highest priority I have as president of this university is the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” said Keenum. “We are always, always going to err on the side of caution in protecting our most precious resource – our people.”
At approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday, law enforcement officials at Mississippi State arrested a student near McCool Hall that had been described as a danger to himself and others. The student subsequently withdrew from MSU and was transported to a treatment facility in Jackson.
The incident transpired after a telephone to MSU Police from the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol revealed that a student on the Starkville campus was both threatening suicide and threatening to harm others.
After MSU issued a “Maroon Alert” notice at 10:16 a.m., the individual was taken into custody 10 minutes later. Chief Vance Rice said the MSU Police Department deeply appreciated federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that had responded immediately and assisted in arresting the student.
Assisting agencies included the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, Starkville Police Department, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Department of Health, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Classes resumed under normal conditions at 2 p.m. Thursday.
MSU is Mississippi’s flagship research university, available online at www.msstate.edu.