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1 year since fatal campus shooting

Change is coming to the Ohio State hiring process a year after a disgruntled custodial employee opened fire in the Maintenance Building, but much has stayed the same.

On March 9, 2010, Nathaniel Brown brought two handguns to work and opened fire on two of his supervisors, Larry Wallington and Henry Butler. Wallington was killed and Butler suffered injuries. Brown then committed suicide.

Larry Wallington Nathaniel Brown Henry Butler
Larry Wallington Nathaniel Brown Henry Butler

The Lantern reported on Sept. 21 that OSU has programs to investigate and remove employees who could be violent, but Mary Lynn Readey, associate vice president for Facilities Operations and Development said those mechanisms “simply did not get triggered.” A background check never turned up that Brown had spent time in prison for receiving stolen property.

The Department of Human Resources’ former vice president Larry Lewellen said a new background check policy is expected to be implemented effective April 1 of this year and that current employees who have prior convictions have been screened for crimes committed. The new hiring policy is in response to a review conducted after last winter’s shootings.

“With regard to hiring practices we are tightening our background checking policy and streamlining the process to ensure we have a consistent process across the university,” Lewellen said.

The policy changes include being able to conduct background checks on all positions including part-time employees and vendors. Part of OSU’s employee screening involves a Social Security number trace, an extensive criminal records search and a national sexual offender registry search.

Currently, faculty, staff, graduate associates and student employees are not required to self-disclose post-employment criminal records. After the new policy’s implementation, they will have to do so within three days of the conviction. Also, anyone caught not addressing convictions, either current or prior, might be deemed ineligible for employment at the university.

Lewellen also said having a prior felony on your record, like Brown had, does not initially bar employment from OSU.

The shootings also affected OSU’s crisis response teams. Each crisis response team has members from several departments on campus, ranging from counselors to lawyers to police. The teams deal with situations ranging from helping a student cope with a family death to responding to threatening situations.

Ernesto Escoto, a member of Ohio State’s crisis response network and associate director of clinical services, said OSU has eight crisis teams set up to help distressed individuals before reaching a tragic level.

“What we probably learned from the crisis last year was that we needed to respect our collaboration with other offices,” Escoto said. “(We’ve learned) the importance to keep each other in the loop and abreast of any particular crises that have taken place.”

One way communication throughout the campus has strengthened is through “9-1-1 folders” that the counseling and consultation department distributed to faculty and staff. The folders include what to look for in distressed individuals and what to do about it.

The OSU Police force has also been proactive concerning campus safety. Officer Anna Stephenson is part of a safety program that is offered to any group that wants to know how to deal with distressed individuals. This is a program that has been available for several years.

But in terms of security, OSU Police is satisfied with its performance.

“I have made no changes in police operations because of (last year’s shootings),” OSU Police Chief Paul Denton told The Lantern in late January.

Denton said the campus police responded appropriately to the situation when it occurred and are adequately prepared to respond to police-related instances that might occur in the future.

Listen to the 911 call from the OSU shooting on March 9, 2010

Listen to the call on the non-emergency line after the shooting on March, 9 2010


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