Alert system under fire after fatal shooting, stabbing

An officer for the Richmond Police Department ropes off the Rite Aid at the corner of Broad and Belvidere Streets this past Thursday after a fatal shooting took place in the store’s parking lot.

Sam Isaacs
News Editor

Following a fatal shooting and a stabbing this past Thursday, students are criticizing the university alert system’s effectiveness.

Some students said they didn’t receive a text alert about the shooting, which occurred at 7:30 p.m. this past Thursday night in a parking lot behind the Rite Aid at the corner of Broad and Belvidere streets.

“I am signed up for the text alerts, but I didn’t hear anything about the shooting at all,” said David Lindsey, a senior business major. “It is pretty crazy to think that a man was killed a few blocks away from my night class. If I was on campus at the time, I would have heard nothing about it.”

Lindsey was not the only student who did not receive an alert about the shooting. Many others took to social media to find out what was going on.

The lapse in alert communication may have been caused by technological issues, said Adam Crowe, a senior emergency preparedness planner for VCU.

“The biggest cause is typically on the student’s specific service provider. We can only control what we put on the service Cloud,” Crowe said. “Any number of reasons could factor into a student not getting an alert. If they have a new operating system like iOS7 or a limit on their data plan they may not get them.”

Richmond Police arrested Quintin Washington, 28, in connection with the incident. He is charged with voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.  The victim, Marquis. J. Richardson, was 18.  Neither is connected to VCU, but students were not far from harm’s way. At least five VCU students were inside the store at the time of the shooting.

“We heard at least four shots and a lady and her kid came running into the store covered in blood,” said sophomore Samantha Mellinger, who was shopping at the store with friends.

The fatal shooting is the closest to VCU’s campus since October 2012, when a man was killed on the 300 block of West Marshall Street.

A second violent crime this past Thursday night left a homeless man hospitalized.

After an argument, two men repeatedly stabbed the homeless man at the corner of Ryland and Franklin streets around 11:30 p.m. The suspects then fled away from campus. An alert detailing the incident was posted on the VCU website, but no text or email alerts were sent to the student body.

Anne Buckley, senior director of University Public Affairs said the decision to send an alert is made by the VCU Police Department.

“… these decisions are made at the scene by police officers who have a lot more information on the matter at hand than the general public,” Buckley said in an email.

Buckley said the stabbing was out outside of VCU’s core campus,  and because the suspects fled westbound, it did not present a “continuing threat” to the VCU community. Police determined the stabbing was not random, and had no connection to VCU, Buckley said. For those reasons, VCU PD decided not to alert students, Buckley said.


1 Comment

  1. I have been a VCU student since 2009, and recently realized that I am no longer receiving text alerts. I tried signing up again through the website, but still did not receive any text alerts about these recent crimes. Thanks to The CT and my tendency to scan my Facebook newsfeed often, I was made aware of these crimes not long after they occurred.
    It is quite unnerving to me to learn of the stabbing on the corner of Ryland and Franklin. I lived in a building on this corner for 4 years, which I would guess is comprised of about 95% VCU students. Not to mention, many of us have gotten to know some of the homeless folks who spend time around the building. On the other hand, I trust VCUPD's judgment around these issues, and know that they consider many things, the first of which is students' safety, when they decide what text alerts to send out.
    Thanks to The CT for keeping students updated and exploring these issues.

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