“Buckeye Alert! Active attacker reported on the OSU Columbus campus. Secure in place: Run, Hide or, as a last resort Fight! Police responding. More info soon” was just one in a string of messages that Ohio State students received beginning at 1:36 a.m. Sunday after gunshots were fired and one person was shot outside McDonald’s on High Street.
The Buckeye Alert system is programmed to send predetermined messages at the push of a button in the event of a campus emergency to thousands of students, faculty and staff who are signed up for the alerts.
The pregenerated message was sent out multiple times, along with seven additional messages that updated those signed up for alerts and eventually gave them the “all clear.”
“We are aware that some community members received the initial Buckeye Alert multiple times,” Dan Hedman, a university spokesperson, said. “This was an automated message generated via our Buckeye Alert system as details of the incident first became known around 1:30 a.m. Although only initiated once, the automated message was delivered by the emergency notification system multiple times. We are looking into the matter to correct it moving forward.”
According to the Department of Public Safety’s website, the pregenerated message is sent out when it is determined that the Ohio State community needs to take immediate action. After further information is reported about an emergency situation, another text is sent out with further details on the location or specific type of emergency.
Hedman said the message is sent out by an assortment of numbers in order for it to reach as many people as quickly as possible.
In terms of Sunday’s incident, a later alert announced that the suspect targeted a specific person. The victim was transported to Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and is in stable condition, according to a Columbus Police press release.
The all-clear message sent around 2:05 a.m. stated, “ALL CLEAR – Police advise that the suspects fled away from campus & are no longer in the area. Remain vigilant.”
Hedman said the all-clear was given, though the suspect had not been caught, because police “were pretty certain that the suspect had fled the area.”
According to the Department of Public Safety’s website, there are three different types of alerts sent to students: Buckeye Alerts, Public Safety Notices and Neighborhood Safety Notices.
Buckeye Alerts are sent out as texts during emergency situations on campus, while Public Safety Notices and Neighborhood Safety Notices are sent as emails to promote safety after recurring incidents that demonstrate an ongoing threat to the campus community, according to the website.
Students whose phone numbers are in the university database have been automatically signed up to receive Buckeye Alerts, but those who did not receive them should go to the Department of Public Safety’s website in order to sign up for the alerts in case of another emergency situation, Hedman said.
Hedman said it is important to follow Ohio State Emergency Management and University Police on Twitter for updates in an emergency situation if you are not alerted by text.
Students can register two additional phone numbers on the Department of Public Safety’s website if they would like their parents or other family members to receive emergency alerts.
“If something like this occurred during the day, we have the technology where if an alert is pushed via text message, it would take over any screen in a classroom,” Hedman said. “It also takes over all the screens in the computer labs across campus.”
A test alert is scheduled for Tuesday.
The victim of the Sunday morning shooting was identified as 21-year-old Wesley N. Powers Jr. in a press release on Twitter by the Columbus Police. He is not a student of the university.
The press release stated that Powers was shot once in the thigh and is in stable condition.
There is no suspect in custody yet. A tweet from University Police described the suspect as a “male wearing a cowboy hat and black hoodie.”
Read more about the incident here.