Debriefing on Shooting Raises Many Concerns

Skyline’s main theater hosted a debriefing/open forum on Tuesday, September 8, on the shooting that took place on campus. Victoria Morrow, President of Skyline College, as well as Chief Neil Telford of the San Bruno Police Department and members of the district’s Public Safety division led the discussion of the events on campus to a crowd of faculty and students alike. Many of the students attending were concerned with the initial response of the faculty and Public Safety Department – some even claimed that they felt more unsafe on campus now that they saw what the reaction to an event like this was like. Students who were in the Pacific Heights building immediately after the shooting felt particularly neglected, saying that even though they were right next to the scene of the crime, many of them didn’t know what was going on until hours later. One Cosmetology student claimed that maintenance people arrived to fix damage to the building, which had apparently been struck by a stray bullet, before police arrived. They also vehemently denied that the maintenance people had arrived on behalf of Skyline’s Public Safety Department, stating that the men had no information about what had happened. Another Cosmetology student raised concerns that they had not heard anything via the emergency announcement system, due to being too far from the rest of campus and the fact that the Pacific Heights building was not yet equipped to broadcast the messages. The emergency announcement system is still in the process of being installed all over campus. Currently, speakers are only located on the insides of buildings 8 and 7A, and on the roof of Building 6, which is designed to broadcast the message to the main campus. There are also plans to install cameras around every building, which is currently also a work in progress. Aside from the situation in the Pacific Heights building, other students were concerned with the sluggishness and apparent unprofessionalism of the police response. One student in particular was critical of the officers present after the evacuation – evidently her friend was suffering from an asthma attack after being escorted off campus, and the police officers she asked for help, who were directing traffic at the time, instructed her to call 911. Despite the harshness of the comments directed at the officers present, Chief Telford, who was representing the San Bruno Police Department, insisted that the officers did the absolute best job they could have under the circumstances. According to him, they were already looking back at things they could have done better so that if there is a next time – though everyone hopes there is not – they will be better prepared to deal with it. By contrast, Chief Telford remained tight-lipped about events pertaining to the actual shooting, saying only that the investigation was still ongoing, and that it would take some time to piece everything together. He did, say, however, that the San Bruno Police Department is still currently looking for four more suspects. He also said that the altercation that led to the shooting was result of a previous relationship between the two groups present, though he refused to comment when asked if the altercation may have been gang-related. Morrow is planning on taking the suggestions and concerns brought up by those present to her cabinet and going over them “with a fine-toothed comb.” She says she hopes to have a more concrete list of things her cabinet will be addressing within a few days, hopefully soon enough to make it into her next newsletter. Despite the concerns of those present, the debriefing did manage to end on a mostly high note, with students and faculty alike acknowledging the contribution of Skyline’s Public Safety officers, as well as all other officers present, in keeping those present during and after the shooting safe from harm to the best of their abilities.