4:19 PM: Just got some information about a situation that led to a campus-wide alert at South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor). According to Seattle Police spokesperson Det. Jeff Kappel, police were investigating “a threat” – he wouldn’t get any more specific than that. No injuries, no arrest reported. Our tip came from a reader whose spouse reported a lockdown situation for a while at the school; we have been unable to reach anyone at SSCC for comment, but the reader says the “all-clear” was just given.
4:53 PM UPDATE: Added a photo of the two police cars that were outside the school when we went by. No further details on the threat, though a spokesperson at the community-college system’s central communications office says there’ll be a followup message for the campus tomorrow.
5:02 PM UPDATE: Just got a call back from vice president of student services Rosie Rimando, who says that this started with a report from a student, who said another student had made a “threat of gun violence on campus.” Rimando says, “Within minutes it was reported to security, and while SPD began an investigation, we went into shelter-in-place, basically a lockdown, across campus.” She says that was a preliminary precautionary measure until they “confirmed that the student in question [who allegedly made the threat] was not on campus and not in the area at all.” That student, she says, has since been contacted and is “suspended from campus” while the investigation continues. A schoolwide team is also taking this, she says, as “an opportunity to brush up on our emergency-response plan,” but “we don’t feel like there is any danger” to the campus or surrounding community.
ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON, 1:30 PM: Associate vice president for college relations and advancement Elizabeth Pluhta e-mailed us the official statement on what transpired yesterday, including a note about a past incident brought up in the comment section:
Late Thursday afternoon a student reported a threat of gun violence on campus by another student. Campus Security and Seattle Police were immediately called, and Seattle Police began investigating on campus. The college also instituted “shelter in place” precautions, which included locking buildings and rooms, and notifying staff and students. Once Seattle Police confirmed that no threat was present on campus, the “all clear” was given. The student making the threat has been contacted and is suspended from campus pending a conduct investigation.
Using the phrase “lock down” in our message may have been stronger than necessary, but our first reaction was to be protective until more was known about the situation. And, had there been an active threat, there are other emergency communication tools that would have been used.
The college regularly conducts emergency preparedness training sessions and emergency drills. We will review our response to this situation in order to continue improving our safety and security on campus.
Regarding the pistol found in the backpack on campus in December, that student faced disciplinary action through the normal student conduct process. Student privacy laws prevent us from discussing the specific result.
We subsequently asked her about the alert that was sent out, since some said they didn’t receive it, but our original tip came from someone who said their spouse had seen “e-mail” about the lockdown:
In this situation we used a computer “pop-up” system that sends a message to all computer screens on campus, over-riding anything on the screen at that time. If there had been active danger, we would have added a voice message through our outdoor speaker system, and we also have a warning system that can send a voice message to all campus telephones, using the speakerphone feature. In addition, all college staff and students are encouraged to sign up for Campus Alerts, where we send a text or e-mail message to the phone or computer the subscriber lists. The Campus Alert sign-up is available on our website.