A series of UF alerts warning of shots fired on campus Friday afternoon may have caused some confusion.
Five alerts were issued by UF’s alert system after the Gainesville Police Department received a report about a person shooting a firearm in a wooded area behind the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
Minutes after the initial alert, another message was sent out stating there was not an active shooter, and that the suspect was practicing target shooting in the woods.
University Police Department Capt. Kristy Sasser said at the time, they wanted to get out as much information as quickly as possible, knowing that there would be updates to follow.
“We don’t want to take the additional time to determine is this for sure [a threat] because then we’d have lost time,” Sasser said.
The initial alert description stated that the suspect was 59 years old, a typo that was intended to read “5’9” in regards to the suspect’s height.
Although the alerts stated that shots were fired, they did not state that an active shooter was present.
“Obviously, any time you hear ‘shots fired’ related to a university or a school, everyone’s first thought is going to be ‘Is it an active shooter?’” Sasser said. “So we wanted to very quickly let everyone know that it was not an active shooter situation.”
Sasser said that in situations such as this, it’s important to follow the directions provided in the alerts and to notify police with any information regarding the alerts.
UPD currently offers active shooter safety training that can be accessed on its website, Sasser said.
A message from UPD Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick was shared on UF’s twitter following the incident. The tweet stated that UFPD issued the alerts out of “an abundance of caution during a rapidly developing situation.”
“The goal of UF Alerts is to make the community aware as quickly as possible of potential threats, so that individuals can use their best judgment and take the best course of action for their own protection,” the message read.
Contact Samia Lagmis at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SLagmis.