Public Safety Discusses Recent Shooting near Campus

Cabrini Rudnicki, Co-News Editor

A recent shooting near campus prompted public safety to send out emergency alerts.

The shooting, which took place on South Main Street near Pizza Fellas and the PSC gas station, occurred on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m., according to the Times Leader.

Wilkes University sent out an emergency alert at 6:46 p.m, stating: “Report of shots fired in the area of Pizza Fellas 395 S Main St. Avoid area and use caution. Police already on scene. More info to come.”

More alerts were sent out as police released more information on the situation. Public Safety sent out a notice email on Feb. 14 on the situation.

“This was a dynamic event and little information was available to share in regards to suspect or vehicle information,” stated the email. As of sending the email, no suspects were identified.

Chief Christopher J. Jagoe, the director of Public Safety, explained the process of alerting campus of emergencies.

“First, we have to follow the guidelines of the Clery Act,” explained Jagoe. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which was signed in 1990, outlines the procedures on how to notify college campuses of crime, including timely notifications.

“The law is pretty specific about [the crime] being on campus, or imminent to campus, or a threat to the campus,” he explained. “Outside of that, they do not give much guidance. We try to live to the spirit of the law, and give information out as quickly as possible.”

Public Safety tries to ensure the veracity of reports on the police scanner before alerting campus. Reports may be called in as more extreme events than there actually is.

From there, Public Safety determines identifiable information before sending an alert out to the community.

“We didn’t provide a lot of information because there wasn’t a lot (for the shooting), but we first want to let people know there is something major going on out there,” he explained. “In this particular instance, it went out as shots fired, and very quickly it was reported that individuals were down. There was no information about suspects.”

This particular situation did not lead Public Safety to send out a final alert specifying the safety of the area due to circumstances.

“I like to hear that an arrest was made, or even that we know where the suspect is,” he said. “In some cases, the person has gone completely away from campus.”

In the alerts, Public Safety urged students to use caution and to utilize public safety escorts as needed.

“I get worried when I see things where people are videotaping. They hear shots and immediately their phones come out,” he said. “We are telling folks, ‘avoid, deny, defend.’ When you hear stuff like that, put space and time between you and that activity.”

Jagoe stressed utilizing Public Safety services, such as Colonel Connector.

Lieutenant Kenneth Lukasavage of public safety, discussed the constant surveillance of local crimes that could potentially affect campus.

“We can hear everything Wilkes-Barre city is doing,” he explained. “For example, if there is a shooting in Sherman Hills and the suspect flees to the mall, we know that is no threat to Wilkes University. There is no need to send out a message for that because we don’t want to terrify people every time an incident happens in Wilkes-Barre. On the other hand, if there is an incident near King’s and we have information that they are fleeing towards campus, then we want to let the students know to avoid the area.”

Students who need escorts around campus can contact Public Safety via the Wilkes Shield app, available on the Google Play and Apple App Store.