Students react to campus lockdown

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Loren Horst, '12, made a meme referencing the pursuit. The meme features the face of the wanted gunman, who roamed campus two days ago and who kicked in the door of a students' off-campus house.
It was 11:55 a.m. on April 18, and a Psychology Statistics class in Carnegie Hall was running exactly five minutes too late. As students twitched and jerked their feet anxiously, waiting to be released, a knock sounded at the door. It was Professor of Psychology Brian Saltsman, who works in the building.

“Did you get the notice?” he asked Psychology Professor Aimee Knupsky, who was teaching the class.

Knupsky had not received the e-mail Saltsman was referring to, from Safety and Security, which alerted the campus community to the presence of an armed man who was wanted for a shooting involving policemen in Ohio.

Saltsman conveyed to the class the details of the message, which instructed everyone on campus to stay indoors until further notice. Student journalists from Allegheny College reported on the full story, here.

Confused students in Carnegie wandered in various directions – some toward the computer lab, others toward classrooms to meet up with friends.

Emily Divins, ’13, called her workplace on the phone to let them know she’d be late for her one o’clock shift. At that moment, she didn’t know that the lockdown would last three hours, and she wouldn’t be able to come in at all.

Many students all over campus initially thought the threat was not serious.

“I thought it was going to blow over,” said Emily Eckert, ’14, who was just finishing her work shift at the Financial Aid Office when she learned about the fugitive.

“I was packed up and about to walk to Brooks, knowing he was on Loomis, but my bosses wouldn’t let me leave. I stayed at work until 3:30.” Eckert’s shift normally ends at noon.

It was hard for many students to take the campus-wide alerts seriously at first.

Mike Oliphant, ’13, said he was not initially sure how to react to the warnings.

“At first I was caught up in the absurdity of the moment,” said Oliphant. “A fugitive kicking in doors, cops with guns a street over waiting for a showdown. It didn’t feel quite like Meadville.”

All over campus, students were instructed to stay where they were.

Jordan Abbott, ’12, was walking on campus when he was instructed to get inside.

“I snuck out the back door of Brooks [Dining Hall] and was walking over to the Murray area, when some woman inside of Murray yelled for me to get in the building,” Abbott said. “I kind of followed suit, seeing as I was pretty much the only person out and about.”

Abbott’s comp oral, which was supposed to take place Wednesday, was re-scheduled due to the incident. He wasn’t the only student who enjoyed deadline extensions on academic assignments.

“I had a huge Con Law test to study for, but the test ended up getting canceled,” said Caitlyn McNamee, ’14, who said she’d taken off work for the day to study. “I spent the day watching The Office and following what people were saying about what was happening on Facebook.”

For the next three hours, students had been told to remain in locations other than their own rooms all over campus entertained themselves as best as they could.

Taisha Thomas, ’13, spent her afternoon in the Vukovich Center.

“We were in the best room possible, because you need a code to get in, and you can’t even access it from the outside,” she said. “We watched Edward Scissorhands.”

Thomas added that Professor Coddington, the father of a classmate, brought in pizza for the whole class to eat.

Many hungry students ordered pizza throughout the afternoon. Food was the main thing on most people’s minds after they’d been sequestered for so long since lunch time.

After being stuck in Steffee Hall for awhile, Will Tolliver, ’13, got tired – and hungry. He decided to exit the building before being instructed to.

“There was no food, and I was starving,” he said. “So I left, ordered Domino’s and enjoyed there being no class.”

Tolliver said that the faculty at Steffee was not very diligent about keeping students from exiting the building.

“They didn’t say anything [about the alert]. The secretary locked the doors and then there was no one monitoring them or anything like that,” he said.

Some other students also said they left their respective locations before being given the go-ahead.

“I snuck out of Montgomery Gym around 2 p.m.,” said Anais Schindler, ’13. “They had us hide out in the basement, because there’s no windows down there.”

Despite the fact that the Vukovich has lots of windows, Kelonte Adams, ’13, wasn’t worried about being stuck there. “I didn’t hide. I didn’t think [Green] would hide in a glass building, if you ask me,” he said.

Adams said he and a few other students periodically went to the garden on top of the Vukovich to check out the helicopters that were hovering above campus.

After most of the excitement had died down and he felt safe enough, Adams went to McKinley’s to get some food.

Numerous other students also said they did not feel frightened about the situation.

“To be quite honest, the gunman, the police and the chase all felt pretty far away from me,” said Mike Oliphant, ’13. “At times, it almost felt like students created the chase as something much larger than it was through Twitter and Facebook.”

“After awhile, I think he just laid in a ditch to wait it out and everyone’s minds ran wild,” he added.

Other students felt worried enough to heed the campus-wide alerts and stayed indoors the entire day. McNamee, who lives in Brooks, said she only left her room once to eat at Brooks Dining Hall.

Noreen Chatta, who also lives in Brooks and ate in the dining hall to avoid going outside, said she’d been in her rooms in Brooks since 11 a.m. after getting out of class and remained inside the building until she went to bed that night.

“I’ve been inside for twelve hours now,” said Chatta, as the lights in Brooks hall flickered ominously.

Marianna Kreidler, an Allegheny alumna from 2011 and current staff member, was on campus waiting to attend a play rehearsal that never happened when she heard that the gunman was last seen near Baldwin Street, where she lives.

Kreidler decided to spend the night in Brooks with a friend instead of going home that night.

Robert Patterson, ’13, said his friends in England were very scared to learn about what happened in Meadville.

“I told them, ‘This is why America shouldn’t have guns!'” Patterson said.

Mickey Bouffard, ’14, argued with Patterson, saying, “No one should have guns.”

Bouffard said she ventured into town in the middle of the afternoon and was surprised to learn that many townspeople were unaware of the situation.

“They were like, ‘Lockdown? What lockdown?'” Bouffard said.

Numerous students expressed concern about the lack of response from Safety and Security.

“My mom has been asking about what Security’s doing, and I haven’t told her that they aren’t doing anything because I don’t want her to be worried,” said Kerri Barron, ’14.

Abbott said he didn’t feel as though students’ criticism of Security was fair.

“They’re unarmed, and they weren’t leading the investigation,” he said.