Misinformation spread quickly this past week at Brock University with heavy police presence taking stage. Social media was buzzing following tweets from unofficial sources that led people to believe there was an active shooter on campus.
Niagara Regional Police received a phone call around 8:00 p.m. on March 21 with reports of a shooter on the university’s main campus. Upon police arrival it was determined there was no shooter, but rather an incident that occurred at Village residence that led to two students being stabbed and a third being injured in the struggle. None of the victims suffered life threatening injuries and have been released from the hospital.
The Brock Press originally reported of a lockdown taking place at Brock, but the NRPS later stated that no such action was requested. However, many students that were on campus at the time said they did believe there was a lockdown as some were brought together in different offices and classrooms for safety reasons, and police had all campus entrances blocked off for about an hour.
The NRPS let the public know that there was no active shooter at about 8:40 p.m., but a lot of people expressed their displeasure towards the University for lack of communication.
“Some students on campus were unaware of the events unfolding, walking through the halls, while most classrooms were informed of the situation and students were told to stay where they were,” said Sarah Eadie, a second-year sport management student. “It was unclear if students were to stay in the school, in classrooms or in a lockdown situation.”
Brock’s Campus Security Twitter account made it public knowledge that an investigation was underway at 8:20 p.m., and the university’s account did the same about 20 minutes after. A public statement refuting any false information was not clearly made by the University in a reasonable time according to some students.
Eadie said an email to students letting them know that the campus is safe or disproving a lockdown would have lessened the confusion.
Dan Dakin, Manager Communications and Media Relations at Brock, said mass emails are sent out to student accounts as well as communication through the Campus Security app.
“We have been able to communicate with our students,” said Brock President Gervan Fearon, on the night of the incident. “We have been able to ensure them of the safety of the campus.”
Police continue their search for the two suspects involved, but did determine that it was an isolated targeted attack. The first suspect is described to be male, possibly East Indian in his 20s, a slim build, wearing a dark toque, a mask over his lower face and dark clothing. The second is also male, possible East Indian in his 20s, a slim build, wearing lighter coloured clothing and possible grey pants.
Police were given information that the suspects fled campus in a car, but do not have details on what the car looked like.
Village residence has 12 separate courts with 15 units, but it’s unclear which court the incident occurred at. The university did say that the students in the court had been transferred to other residences for the night.
There are a number of staff members available to students to be able to provide assistance that they might need. Counselling services are also be available to students such as the 24/7 telephone line, which can be reached at 1-833-Brock33.
This matter remains under investigation by detectives from the 1 District Criminal Investigations Branch. Anyone with information is asked to call 905-688-4111 extension 9495.