Controversy over Tarleton’s silence on Code Purple about gun incident divides students

This story was written by Texan News Editor-in-Chief Shelby Clayton based on reporting by Ashley Inge, Arynn Tomson, Blanca Izquierdo, Channing Flatt, Katelyn Rivera, Morgan Burke, Nicolette Howe and Clayton.

This story has been updated to include additional comments from university spokeswoman, Cecilia Jacobs. 

Some Tarleton students are questioning why the university did not send out a Code Purple alert after police “disarmed” a student on campus this week.

After the incident on Wednesday, the university provided this statement to Texan News: “Tarleton State University police responded to a call for concern of a student’s welfare, located the student in his vehicle on campus, disarmed him and resolved the matter.”

“There’s a lot of people at this school. A lot of lives were at risk and there should have been a Code Purple. They need to be better, especially at communicating that message,” said Cassidy Cowles, elementary education major.

“That’s bull that there wasn’t a Code Purple sent out. Why isn’t this information out there for students to know? That’s scary,” nursing major, Kimberlyn Roberts said.

“I think that it’s ridiculous that there was a man on campus with a gun and the administration didn’t feel the need to inform us and send a Code Purple detailing the events that had taken place,” said Chase Hartsaw, freshman agriculture education major.

Agriculture business major Lane Samples said that if not a Code Purple alert, then there should be other ways to notify students.

“The fact that Tarleton did not send any form of notification about the situation is disturbing,” Samples said. “Sexual assault and other incidents concerning student safety (are) sent out, so why not this? There is a way to give notification about a situation like this without causing hysteria. Whether his intentions were focused on himself or others, it would have been nice to know about this. Thankfully, Tarleton PD was able to handle it without any problems, though,” said Samples.

“Honestly, when I read the Texan News post about it,” said agriculture education major Karlee Jones. “I was in shock. I understand campus trying to avoid mass chaos by sending out “active shooter” or whatever the case may be, but I definitely think that they should’ve at least sent us a mass email the following day stating ‘Hey, this is what happened, everything is fine we just want y’all to be aware of the situation.’ I would’ve been fine with that.”

Kinesiology major Adriana Darthuy also thinks students should have been told more.

“I would like to know all the details in a situation like this. Things might be exaggerated, and the lack of communication doesn’t help,” said Darthuy.

However, a few students said they understand why the campus wasn’t notified.

“I have a friend that lives in Legacy that told me about this when it happened, I wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise,” said Laura Waldron, a sophomore English major. “My reaction was one of disbelief because you also hear about stuff like this happening other places, but you would never expect it to happen here. I don’t think the university should inform the students about an incident like this if everything is under control. I think it could cause unnecessary worry and possible panic from both parents and students, which could make the situation worse.”

Sianna Tabone understands both viewpoints.

“I don’t think that there should have necessarily been a Code Purple sent out since he didn’t do anything, but maybe an email to all the students about the resources we have on campus for reassurance that there’s help for those with mental health issues,“ she said. “But, there are a lot of ‘what if’s’ in this. He could have easily shot someone who just passed by. We should have maybe known what gun it was and been aware of what went on just as a precaution. You can never have too many warnings. It is always better to be safe and make sure people are aware of what is happening around them.

When contacted Thursday for comment Kirk Turner, Tarleton’s emergency management coordinator, said, “It would probably be easier for us to talk about this in person than over the phone. It’s probably not gonna be today. I’m not going to be available probably until early next week. Probably the easiest thing to do, if you could email me the questions that you may have let me get with my team and find out how we can best answers those questions. We can set up a time that you can come in and we can chat.”

After emailing the questions to Turner, he acknowledged receiving them and said in an email that “Cecilia Jacobs … (cc’d here) can best address them.”

Texan News called Jacobs office three times- at -9:27 a.m.,11 a.m. and 11:58 a.m.- on Friday. The phone rang, but did not go to voicemail.

Jacobs said, “Following a call for concern, university police located the student and resolved the situation within a few minutes of learning he was on campus. No crime was committed, and there was no immediate threat to university safety; therefore, no timely warning in the form of a Code Purple was required or issued.”

“Users will receive notifications through text message and email of closings or delays due to weather, crime, or other events that pose a threat to those on or coming to campus,” she said.

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