UTC chancellor admits campus should have locked down during suspicious person report

Image: WTVC

UTC Chancellor Steve Angle says the campus should have locked down following the report of a suspicious person on campus Wednesday.

What first came in as a call of a man walking around campus in tactical gear, ended up being an off-duty police officer returning home from a shift. According to Chattanooga Police, he actually heard the sirens and response and ended up responding to a call that was made about him.

UTC never locked down campus. Instead, they evacuated Fletcher Hall off of McCallie Avenue. Students were standing in parking lots nearby as other areas were searched by police.

In the new release from Angle, he says, "We will review the decisions that were made and decide whether our assessment process is adequate."

No one was hurt during the swarm of police response to campus.

Here's the full press release from Angle:

Our commitment to students, faculty and staff is to provide a safe learning environment. When any incident occurs that potentially impacts our educational mission, we have to be prepared to inform, engage and execute. We have an emergency operations process in place with specific actions to be taken. While we are thankful that there was not a credible threat on our campus and our students were always safe, there is always an opportunity to assess our actions and consider potential changes to our procedures.

In retrospect, we should have locked down the campus when the report came in of a possible suspicious person in Fletcher Hall and Chattanooga Police Department responded in force. We will review the decisions that were made and decide whether our assessment process is adequate. In addition, our information systems and processes will be reviewed to ensure there are coordinated, timely and accurate messages across the campus and in the community.

We take seriously the safety of our UTC family and being the reliable source of information for all things that impact our campus. The quick action by law enforcement agencies for the city, county, the FBI and UTC was well coordinated and effective in assuring the safety of our campus.

“That’s not something that should be taken lightly," UTC student Tanner Crowe said about the incident. "All of our lives could have been in jeopardy."

UTC Students were business as usual Thursday heading to and from class, coming a day after officers swarmed campus following a 911 call about an armed man on campus.

It turned out just to be a Chattanooga policeman getting off duty.

But despite the false alarm, the incident has left a lasting impact.

“The whole campus should have been on shut down," UTC senior Jeshawn Miller said. "It should have been a thing of, 'Stay in your rooms.' Classes should have been cancelled. Everything should have been shut down until it was solved."

“In the library, we didn’t really know what was going on, and then we only got three alerts from UTC throughout the whole process," UTC student Morgan Taylor said. "It was just really terrifying."

UTC Executive Director of Emergency Services Robie Robinson says it’s Chancellor Steven Angle who’s in charge of deciding whether to put the school on lock down or cancel classes.

And Thursday in a statement, Angle saying, "In retrospect, we should have locked down the campus when the report came in of a possible suspicious person in Fletcher Hall and Chattanooga Police Department responded in force."

“What we didn’t consider in that decision was the emotional impact and what it appeared to be," Robinson said.

But Robinson tells me the school will be making changes to err on the side of safety.

“We are planning for improvements in our messaging process, as far as when we send messages out and making sure we are considering the emotional aspect of it for the recipient," Robinson said.

This is a developing story. Depend on us to update as we learn more.

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