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Volunteer State Community College Taking Precautions After Maine Shooting

Last updated on November 20, 2023

 By Aubrey Cox

On Friday, Oct. 27 Volunteer State campus police sent an email titled “DONT LIVE IN FEAR-LIVE PREPARED” in light of the Lewiston, Maine shooting that killed eight people. 

According to CBS News 40-year-old Robert Card was responsible for the murder of eight people and injuring 13. After a two-day manhunt, police found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Vol State Chief Police Joe Pennington says the campus police email was due to the Maine shooting. 

“The email was sent out to remind everyone to be safe and always be aware of your surroundings. As a community, we mourn the loss of anyone’s life in a tragic event.” 

The email from campus police first, “expresses our deepest sympathy to the entire community of Lewiston, Maine.” 

Next, the email urges students and staff to “follow security procedures” during a shooting, and lists step-by-step processes of “proactively addressing this growing threat.” 

Suggesting in the emails 1-9 steps on actions to follow if one hears shots fired, “9. If there is no possibility of escape or hiding make a personal choice to attempt to negotiate with or overpower the assailant.” 

Followed by, “Thinking about the possibility of an active assailant and having a plan of action should not panic you or stress you any more than a fire drill. Having an action plan should empower you and help you feel more confident in the event of a violent encounter,” said the closing statement on the campus police email. 

“I think how they worded it was inappropriate, […] they are making it seem like it’s not as big of an issue as it is in the U.S.,” VSCC student Paige Bryant says. 

Gunfire is the number one cause of death for youth in Tennessee.  

“I feel it doesn’t shock me, not like it did when we were kids. When you have full access to guns anything is bound to happen. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone who owns a gun will use it for violence, but it does play a big part in it. It’s very sad that kids and teenagers are afraid to go to school due to gun violence,” Bryant said. 

A later email was sent to students and faculty announcing drills VSCC had planned, “The Campus Police Department will be conducting Shelter-in-Place drills this month. The dates and times are not being shared with the campus community to better evaluate the employees’ recent training regarding active assailants.” 

“I got an email about the drill, but I did not hear any alarm or activity going on. But I do believe drills are helpful since they can help keep you calm and know how to react,” VSCC student Andrea Carvajal said. 

CBS News includes the conditions of Card, the Lewiston Maine shooter, stating he had recently reported mental health issues such as hearing voices, and had threatened to “shoot up” the National Guard base in Saco, Maine.  

Chief Police Pennington says in his email that VSCC has supported mental health in students and can be accessed through student service offices, the office number is (615) 230-3472.  

There are other mental health and support services on VSCC’s website that can be accessed, including how to reduce stress and student support services. 

Za’keria Morris says, “The school could help with mental health by showing students that we care. They can talk to us about anything without any judgment and showing sympathy.” 

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