UTEP President says alert to students “not fast enough” as police searched for shooting suspects

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Thursday night, a 22-year-old man was found shot to death at a McDonald on Mesa Street, just south of I-10.

It was a shooting that set off a miles-long chase and a law enforcement-involved search that some students living on the UTEP campus say they were not aware of, despite there being an alert systems for situations just like this one.

Shortly after the shooting, police were alerted that suspects involved in the shooting were on the UTEP campus. The media received an alert from EPPD at 11:05 p.m. saying that residents of Miner Village – the campus housing area – were asked to shelter in place.

However, students living in Miner Village shared messages with KTSM 9 News that they did not receive an alert from UTEP about needing to shelter in place until after midnight.

“It was really shocking because you think by school nothing would ever happen and you feel safe. And the alert didn’t come until hours later so it was very much like what do we do, what’s going on. Everyone was saying you heard a bunch of police and everything but they didn’t know what was going on so everyone thought the worst, and it was kind of bad.”

Kayla Khhajda a UTEP student who lives in Miner Village.

Another student, Paris Watson, said she got the information through a group chat and stayed inside but says other students living in campus housing didn’t know about the suspects being in the area.

“I stayed inside but the school didn’t send out an alert so people who weren’t in the group chat didn’t know that there was something going on outside and then they had like run-ins with the police and then there were people who weren’t here and they were trying to come home and they had to find out from us that it’s not safe to be in this area,” Watson shared.

Friday afternoon, UTEP sent KTSM 9 News the following statement from President Heather Wilson, regarding the time it took to send the alert out.

“There was a crime that happened off-campus last night that resulted in community police coming on-campus searching for the suspects. Our notification to the campus community to shelter in place was not fast enough. We are reviewing our response and lessons learned to fix problems.”

Heather Wilson, UTEP President

Shortly after the alert was sent out to students, two suspects were located in the area of the UTEP Union and taken into custody and have been charged with capital murder.

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