Woken Up by Text About School Shooting at FSU

Woken Up by Text About School Shooting at FSUOur youngest daughter, SearchAmelia’s own “Ally at the Desk“, attends The Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, and I was woken up by the sound of a text message at 12:50 this morning.

“There was a shooting on campus just now. I’m terrified, I’m shaking so much right now. Apparently they caught the guy, he had a gun in the library and two people were shot. No one is dead as far as we know!” My daughter typed.

The library is open 24 hours and 450 – 500 students are said to have been studying in the popular library the week before Thanksgiving break, preparing for the upcoming final exams.

Three students were shot. The gunman was killed by police. Suicide by cop? We may never know, but he opened fire on officers from the steps of Strozier Library on the FSU campus after being directed to put down his weapon. A press conference Thursday afternoon identified the gunman as Myron May, an FSU graduate who later attended law school at Texas Tech University.

Our daughter has an apartment just off campus that she shares with two other students. They were all home safe when my daughter first heard the campus sirens. Then she received a text from school authorities. It read, “Dangerous Situation! Main Campus — Tallahassee. Seek shelter immediately, away from doors and windows.” FSU Police issued this alert to over 55,000 people, including approximately 40,000 students just after 12:30 am. Her friend, Christy, sent a text asking, “Are we under attack?” It was clear these young women had no idea what was happening at first. The next call she received was from a friend saying there was a shooter at the library, then social media like twitter and facebook exploded with related posts.

The “all clear” didn’t come until about 4:00 am after police had secured the area and believed no more threats existed, though classes were canceled on Thursday.

Having been accepted to every college she appied to, one of the reasons we liked FSU was the close proximity of all of the school buildings. A walking campus, she could easily walk, take the bus or bike from class to class. The University offers a distinct academic environment, championship athletics and strong science programs. The Florida State University Police Department has their accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. They are not just “campus security officers”. Florida State University Police officers are sworn officers with full powers of arrest provided to them by Florida State Statutes. Most of all, this is where our daughter chose to attend college. After spending her first 18 years in a small town like Fernandina Beach, she looked forward to being in a sea of 40,000 like-minded students.

No town is immune to this violence that didn’t exist in America 25 years ago. School shootings are becoming more frequent, and this is not the first fatal shooting on school property our daughter has been exposed to. On May 4, 2006, a gold Chrysler sped into the parking lot of Emma Love Hardee Elementary School on Amelia Island, where the driver, Denny Taylor, shot himself in the head. The school was put into immediate, emergency lock-down by a very attentive employee that unforgettable Thursday morning of the Annual Shrimp Festival Parade.

In both instances, the schools activated their safety procedures that were already in place and I am grateful there were not more injuries or deaths.

FSU-hymn-vigil

Here is a message from university President John Thrasher regarding the campus shooting:

“The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected.

The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community. We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery.

Over the past few hours, I have received several briefings from administrators and law enforcement regarding campus safety and security, and they have established that this was an isolated incident. Florida State University and Tallahassee police departments have done an extraordinary job taking quick and decisive action to prevent further tragedy, to secure the scene and to keep campus safe. They have assured me that there is no further threat.

We are increasing security measures and providing a strong law enforcement presence on and around campus today. I have great confidence in the abilities of our local law enforcement agencies to handle this matter.

As we try to make sense of what is a senseless incident, the Counseling Center and Employee Assistance will provide counseling and support for FSU faculty, staff and students affected by these events. Should anyone need or desire such services, please contact the center at the Askew Student Life Building or call (850) 644-2003.

We will continue to share information with you regarding this matter as it becomes available.”

FSU-shooting-vigilThousands of students showed up on campus this evening for a candlelight vigil. They sang, and they prayed for those injured, and they thanked the first responders. The vigil ended with the familiar “war chant” – encouraging students to come together.

When our daughter arrives home next Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday, we will hug her a little longer, and a little more often, until it is time for her to leave her childhood home and once again return to FSU. While these young adults will never forget what happened, I hope they can savor those special moments of what college traditionally offers during the holiday season: stressful final exams, sorority parties and exciting football games, and not solely focus on this horrible event.

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