SLU President apologizes and admits mistakes in 'gun scare' inci - KMOV.com

SLU President apologizes and admits mistakes in 'gun scare' incident on campus

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Student at SLU reacts to president apology, gun incident. (Credit: KMOV) Student at SLU reacts to president apology, gun incident. (Credit: KMOV)
SLU President Fred Pestello in a Facebook video apology (Credit: KMOV) SLU President Fred Pestello in a Facebook video apology (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Saint Louis University's President is publicly admitting error to how they handled a gun scare on campus earlier this week.

President Fred Pestello posted a message to the campus in a video on the SLU Facebook page Saturday.

The video follows an incident that happened Wednesday around 5 p.m. when campus police sent out two alerts to students, parents, and staff saying “a gun was spotted on campus” and “shots fired.” Police later cleared both these alerts and said the statements were inaccurate and an actual gun never existed.

“As a leadership team, there were areas where we fell short. We must do better,” Pestello said in the Facebook video.

The incident on Wednesday caused panic and confusion around campus.

“I think we're all just kind of angry it got blown out of proportion,” said Rick Rousch, a SLU senior.

The second alert said the shots were fired outside of Marchetti East Tower.

“I saw Marchetti East, and I thought 'Oh man that's where I live. I'm glad I'm in class right now,'” said Brendan Murphy, a SLU sophomore.

After more than an hour of confusion, police eventually confirmed the scare grew from a student carrying a rubber band gun made for an engineering project.

President Pestello said one of the big mistakes in how this situation was handled was the lack of information to students after the initial two alerts were sent out.

"Following those two messages, there was not another rave message sent for 1 hour and 39 minutes. This is unacceptable," said Pestello.

“An hour and a half between notifications is kind of a lot,” said Rousch.  

President Pestello said the other mistake was that the word ‘reported’ was not used before the statement ‘shots fired’ in the second alert, which made it seem like it was a fact, instead of a claim.

“The priority was to share pertinent information as quickly as possible, that is our mistake," said Pestello.

This video message offers clarity for the campus.

“It's nice to take responsibility when you mess up. They expect it from us, so we expect it from them too,” said Rousch.

"We will be better prepared in the future," said Pestello.

SLU is encouraging people to provide their feedback on how to improve the university’s emergency preparedness plan.

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