Students concerned about off-campus safety
Posted April 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm in News
Many students and local residents were startled after a Dept. of Public Safety officer fired one shot at an armed robbery suspect, who Los Angeles Police Department said is a Compton-area gang member, early Wednesday morning.
The shooting occurred on 30th Street near Figueroa Street, after the two male victims followed the suspect, identified as Jeremy Hendricks, 24, from The Row, where the robbery occurred. The suspect was confronted by a patrolling DPS officer, who shot Hendricks in the leg after he appeared to be reaching for a weapon.
âAt first, it was just surreal,â said Sahar Youdai, a senior majoring in architecture, who lives in an apartment building in front of where Hendricks was shot. âI woke up to hearing someone say âPut your hands upâ and then the gunshot, so at first it didnât register.â
The incident marks one week since the fatal shooting of two USC graduate students, Ying Wu and Ming Qu, near 27th Street and Raymond Avenue.
Reed Foster, a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematics, said the incident was especially unsettling in light of last weekâs shooting.
âEveryone was kind of getting over the death of the two graduate students and then this happened,â said Foster, who was at his fraternity house during the incident. âEveryone is kind of in a daze right now.â
Though Foster said the shooting does not change his opinion about safety off campus, he said he will strive to be more conscious of his surroundings.
âThis [doesnât] change how I feel about my safety,â Foster said. âIt just makes me kind of more aware. Iâm not likely to go out and walk by myself with my iPod or be drunk.â
USC officials did not send a Trojan Alert â a multi-platform alert that provides information on immediate threats â because they determined that no students were in immediate danger following the shooting. Though officials sent an email about the incident to the USC community Wednesday morning, the decision to not send a Trojan Alert raised concerns among students and parents, according to a statement released by Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration.
âWe must always balance the communityâs desire to know against the need to send out text alerts judiciously, in order to ensure maximum attention and response in case of an immediate threat or emergency,â Dickey said.
Dickey said that, in the future, officials will consider other methods, such as tweeting or only sending an email, for conveying pertinent information in similar situations.
âWe will consider all delivery options for alerts in future situations where a threat does not exist but the university community would benefit from more timely information,â Dickey said.
Lynette Hammond, who lives on 30th Street the location of the shooting, said she was scared when she woke up to news of the shooting Wednesday morning. She was especially surprised by the incident because she said the area where it occurred is perceived as being among the safer off-campus living options for students.
âItâs really bad,â Hammond said, âBecause this is supposed to be the good part. Here you are, going to school, minding your business and no one should have to be afraid.â
Hammond, however, said students could prevent more incidents from occurring by limiting risky behavior, such as drinking and staying out extremely late.
âThe kids kind of have to curb it a little, too, because they have a false sense of security with [DPS], the police and the people in yellow jackets.â
With all the security precautions, Hammond said there is little the school can do to improve prevention.
âWhat else can they do?â Hammond said. âThey canât call in the National Guard.â
Foster said he still believes the area is safe for students, although he said students are safer living in buildings that are more secure.
âThings like this are bound to happen,â Foster said. âIf I were sending my kid here, Iâd be more comfortable with them living on campus or in a Greek house or one of these larger apartment complexes, as opposed to a neighborhood home.â