JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A safety alert has been canceled after students at Jackson State University were instructed to “shelter in place” Monday morning.
According to the alert sent to students, a man with an assault rifle was reportedly seen near the College of Liberal Arts.
Law enforcement on the state, county, city, and campus levels were seen patrolling campus with their blue lights flashing for most of the day.
“This is a crazy situation. I don’t think he should have been doing that at all,” JSU Junior Zion Norris said. “Hopefully, they find him and handle it the right way.”
“I came to the library to get some work done. I actually had a meeting for my internship, and I heard there was a shooter outside of the library,” JSU Junior Mitchell Cook said. “I got on the ground and turned the lights off so the shooter [wouldn’t be able to] find me.”
Cook says he’s not only frightened but also upset because he feels campus safety has been an issue for some time now.
“It seems like the administration doesn’t care about the safety of their students. It’s all about the sports, but when it comes to the day-to-day students living their life, it’s unsafe. It’s really unacceptable for this problem to be here for this long. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” he said.
In October, student Jaylen Burns was killed in an on-campus shooting at the University Pointe Apartment Complex and less than a year before that, another student lost his life in an on-campus shooting.
The latter is a shooting that is now at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.
“If I was a freshman, I would transfer,” Cook said. “Professors are still trying to have class and stuff. What are we talking about, class? We have a dude out here with a rifle, and they want to have class? Everything is backwards. Real change needs to happen with the administration.”
Cook claims the university uses a third-party security firm to monitor the gates that lead into the university and feels students would be safer if campus police were the ones taking on that role.
Sharing in the concerns of students is Jackson’s police chief.
“People don’t normally walk around with assault rifles. We take that very serious. We have children here and students from all over the country and the world. We have to make sure that they’re safe in our city and college campus,” Chief Joseph Wade said. “My kids are here. My son is a senior and my daughter is in grad school, so when I hear stuff like this, I’m concerned not only as police chief but as a parent here in the city of Jackson.”
WLBT asked Chief Wade how Mississippi’s open carry law plays into this situation.
He says it would be one thing if the man was walking down a Jackson street but being on-campus is against the law.
Police also want to find out if the man is even allowed to have a firearm.
“What was your intention? What were you doing? Why were you over here? Where are you from? Are you allowed to have a gun? Are you a convicted felon? We want to get those questions answered,” Wade said.
The suspect has not yet been found.
Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.
Copyright 2024 WLBT. All rights reserved.