Students and faculty received a public safety alert on Wednesday, Oct. 16 notifying them of an armed man outside gate one an hour before it was confirmed that the male was an active member of law enforcement.
Students received the alert around 12 p.m. It stated that public safety received a report of the armed man at 11:27 a.m. in a black Toyota minivan outside gate one. Soon afterwards, he left in his vehicle going towards Grand Central Parkway. The New York Police Department (NYPD) responded with Public Safety and investigated the situation. The campus was searched and the alert confirmed no credible threats.
It is within Public Safety’s policy to alert the campus community of these emergencies, according to Brian Browne, university spokesman. Under the Clery Act, the University is required to utilize the policy.
This policy, known as the Timely Warning Policy, states: “In the event that a situation arises, either on or off campus of any St. John’s University sites, that, in the judgment of the Executive Director of Public Safety or designee constitutes an ongoing or continuing threat, a campus-wide Public Safety Alert will be issued.”
This is listed and described in the annual security and fire safety report sent out by Internal Communications, which also includes other policies required of the University in the event of emergencies.
By 1:10 p.m. an update alert was sent out to students by Public Safety with the assistance of the New York City Police that they identified the male as an active member of law enforcement. The alert ended with a statement reminding everyone that if “[they] see something, say something.”
Public Safety received a report of the armed male by a non-St. John’s passerby who observed him and the firearm around his waistband as he exited his parked car that was located outside of gate one, Browne said.
The passerby entered campus into the library to notify the Public Safety building attendant about what he witnessed.
Public Safety checked the campus with assistance by NYPD and used closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras, along with patrol units. By using the cameras, they were able to see that the car drove towards Grand Central Parkway.
According to Browne, Public Safety believes their process went well. The University continuously reviews and evaluates incidents as such.
“St. John’s University is a safe campus environment and the Office of Public Safety maintains a positive working relationship with local law enforcement agencies who assist the University when emergency situations take place,” Browne said.