Pacific releases potential active shooter plans and procedures in wake of UCC school shooting
On Thursday, Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire on the campus of the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., 180 miles south of Portland. The shooting resulted in 10 deaths, including the shooter, and left seven injured.
The shooter was identified as Chris Harper-Mercer, a 26-year-old man who attended the college as a student. Harper-Mercer was reported to have three guns on him at the time of the shooting, two pistols and one long gun.
Investigators are currently looking into the writings the shooter left behind to ascertain a motive for the crime. Harper-Mercer was born in England and resided with his mother, who had divorced his father some years prior, at the time of the shooting. It was reported that he gave a USB flash drive to a fellow student that contained many of his writings. Preliminary reports of these writings indicated that he held antireligious and white supremacist beliefs as well as a disdain for black men. His writings glorified the 2014 Isla Vista shooting that occurred near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara.
In addition, some reports have indicated Harper-Mercer dealt with emotional issues, even attending a school that dealt with students who had similar emotional problems. Reports have also indicated he felt insecure regarding his virginity. His neighbors reported that he would often keep to himself and stay indoors with the lights off.
This shooting, the 45th school shooting so far this year, has reignited debates regarding gun control legislation and mental health care in America. President Obama made an impassioned plea for Americans to reconsider the country’s stance on gun rights and access. The president stated that all Americans should reconsider their beliefs “whether they are Democrats or Republicans or independents.”
This shooting, along with the shooting on the campus of Sac State a few months ago, has caused University of the Pacific to consider its plan in case a situation like this were ever to arise on campus. What makes this shooting particularly harrowing is the fact that Harper-Mercer was, by all accounts, a normal college student who dealt with emotional problems and insecurities — things that can and do plague students on our campus as well.
Pacific responded to the recent string of shootings with an email regarding emergency preparedness (subject line: “Potential Active Shooter Plans and Procedures”). The email, signed by Vice President for Student Life Patrick Day and sent Monday, Oct. 5 at 4:48 p.m., reminded the entire Pacific community that the Pacific Alert Team has a plan in place should an emergency strike.
This group includes 43 individuals from a range of departments — including the Office of Communications, Health Services and Bon Appétit — who could, and would, take leadership should an emergency situation arise. PAT, headed by co-chairs Steve Belcher and Steve Jacobson, meets about once a month and frequently engages in practice drills and preparation scenarios.
But the email included the need for the community’s collective awareness for what to do in emergency circumstances: “While the PAT has a strong plan, the greatest asset Pacific has in addressing an incident, such as one with an active shooter, is for all students, faculty and staff to know how best to respond.”
According to Day’s email, students, staff and faculty should take the proper measures to ensure they will be immediately notified of a threat by entering their contact information into the Pacific Connect emergency notification system (which one can do via insidePacific). This system has the capability of sending emails to all students and staff, but will only send emergency-prompted text messages and voicemail messages to those registered to receive them.
Day also encourages members of the Pacific community to contact Public Safety to learn who will serve as their designated “Team Building Leader.” These individuals “should have a plan developed in conjunction with the building’s leadership (i.e., Dean or Director) to respond to a variety of incidents and will work closely with the Pacific Alert Team to keep you updated on the status of an emergency.”
Finally, should one face an active shooter — whether on campus or not — he or she should follow the basic plan outlined by Homeland Security: Attempt to evacuate, search for a place to hide or, if all else fails, take action by attempting to disrupt the shooter.
Day ended the email with an invitation to contact Public Safety or PAT should students have any further questions or concerns.
The Pacifican has reached out to the student body to get students’ reactions to the news of the shooting. Look to the Opinion section for more information.