Many students at the University of Miami were left clueless as to why the campus was flooded with flashing red and blue lights Tuesday night.
The only action by the university came in the form of a lockdown at the Coral Gables campus at approximately 11 p.m.
This response was in reaction to an armed robbery that occurred at the 5200 block of Ponce de Leon Boulevard between the Serpentine parking lot and the Metrorail.
Students around the entrances of on-campus buildings were forced to take shelter until the UM Police department declared that the situation was clear.
However, the Emergency Notification Network (ENN) designed to alert the university population of dangerous situations on campus never sent out a message.
Few in the community were aware that the suspects were still at large in the vicinity.
UMPD Chief David Rivero released a statement to the university Wednesday afternoon.
“Immediately following the incident, university and Coral Gables Police actively patrolled the campus, but upon further review, it has been determined that the university should have activated the Emergency Notification Network immediately to alert the campus community of a potential threat, followed by an ‘all clear’ notification once we were certain the potential threat no longer existed,” he wrote.
“The University is continuously reviewing and improving its safety and emergency response plans and will use this opportunity to ensure we respond appropriately in the future.”
UMPD declined to answer questions directly from The Miami Hurricane. Instead, Rivero responded to an e-mail with questions that were accepted through the university’s media relations department.
“We issued the statement to clarify to students what took place during the course of last night’s incident,” he said in response to why UMPD failed to send out an alert as the incident was unfolding.
“As you know Coral Gables Police Department has an active investigation on this matter. Our statement includes all the information we can release at this time.”
It is still not clear why the university’s failure to activate the ENN would be part of a criminal investigation.
The following paraphrased questions were posed by The Miami Hurricane to Rivero:
- We received several reports that students entered and exited the Otto G. Richter Library during the lockdown. Should this have been the case?
- Who is responsible for posting ENN alerts?
- Is there any way that the university community can be notified in a timely manner if another dangerous situation occurs on or near campus?
- Is there anything you would like to clarify that you think we should be aware of?
Student Government President Lionel Moise adressed many student concerns at a roundtable hosted by Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely on Wednesday.
“We are working with the administration and we are thankful that they have been very open to our feedback so that we can make sure that if something like this were to happen in the future, it would be dealt with in a certain way,” he said.
Still, students are questioning the effectiveness of the ENN.
“I didn’t get a text message or anything, nobody knew what was going on – not even the staff of the UC knew,” sophomore Kimberly Reyes said. I just think it was poorly handled.”
Sophomore Michael Acosta agrees.
“What’s the point of having all these tests if when something happens, we don’t get notified?,” he asked. “It’s kind of pointless.”
Questions remain as to what exactly happened Tuesday night.
Sophomores Christian Rivera and Aaron Kurz were walking home from the Metrorail after returning from a Miami Heat game.
They were approached by three males whom they said looked “like college students.”
One of the suspects revealed a pistol that was hidden under his backpack and pointed it to the two students and demanded, “Give us everything.”
The Coral Gables Police Department detained three suspects around 1:30 a.m. at the intersection of Marius Street and U.S. 1.
Their involvement in the incident was confirmed by Wednesday morning. The arrested men were in possession of the crime-scene weapon and were charged with robbery with a weapon and grand theft.
Although a CGPD press release on Wednesday confirmed that all suspects were arrested, conflicting details of the suspects’ descriptions remain.
Rivera and Kurz has described two black men and one white male, while two white men and one black male were arrested.
“It makes me very scared because I live close to campus, right down the street,” senior Jacquie Pener said. “I don’t know where these loonies are going to be, and if they’re coming to my door and if I’m going to be next.”
Christina De Nicola may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramon Galiana, Danielle Kaslow and Megan Terilli also contributed to this report.