CMUPD: Speaking up key to preventing gun violence

Sara Winkler/Assistant Photo Editor A faulty BB gun lays on the floor with other materials the CMU Police Department used Sunday afternoon during the active shooter simulation outside of Finch Fieldhouse, part of the Citizen's Police Academy event they held this weekend on campus. Around 20 people participated in the event, according to Sergeant Trent Case, who said the department's goal was to reach out to students and the community to give them a better understanding of the duties of law enforcement.

Central Michigan University Police Department Lt. Larry Klaus said preventing shootings like those at Michigan State and Ferris State University last weekend ultimately comes down to speaking up.

"The campus, the community, they have to help us," Klaus said. "If you see someone acting off and you suspect something, you have to let somebody know."

Last weekend, 20-year-old MSU student Dominique Nolff was shot in an off-campus apartment and later died. Another student was also shot and was hospitalized. A few hours later, a student was shot at an apartment complex just off FSU's campus, and a suspect was arrested a day later.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nolff family and friends," Michigan State spokesman Kent Cassella said in a statement.

Klaus said the MSU and FSU shootings, in addition to a recent shooting at Purdue University, serve as sobering reminders that gun violence can be unpredictable.

"You can see that it doesn't matter where you are, violence can happen anywhere, any place," he said.

While saying he cannot comment on the specifics of the cases at hand, Klaus said increasing gun violence incidents can be attributed in part to the country's "mental health crisis."

"How do we help these people? That's the question. That's why if you see something is up with a friend, you've got to help them out," Klaus said. "Let someone know."

Klaus said in order to prevent shooting incidents, students and faculty should be aware of their surroundings and of any suspicious behavior.

"In order to help us out, you've got to have some sense of awareness," he said.

If students encounter an active shooter, Klaus said it is important to leave the area.

"If there's a shooter, get out," Klaus said. "Get out. Help people to get out with you. If that's not possible, then hide out. If that's not possible, then defend yourself."

CMUPD officers train in how to respond to on-campus active shooting situations several times per year.

"If something like this breaks out, we're going to resort to our training," Klaus said.

CMUPD would collaborate with the Mount Pleasant Police Department or any other police agencies as necessary should an incident occur off campus, as was the case with the MSU and FSU shootings.

The East Lansing Police Department is still searching for a suspect in connection to the MSU shooting.

Police arrested and charged DeCory Downing, 20, in connection to the FSU shooting. Downing had an "extensive criminal record," according to Ferris State University Director of Public Safety Bruce Borkovich.

"Early indications are that (the incident) may have just been an argument that went bad," he said.

Downing, a native of Macomb County in the metro Detroit region, has been charged with attempted murder and having a firearm while committing a felony.


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