School shootings are an eerily common occurrence in America. In January, Case Western Reserve University faced threats of a mass shooting from former staff member Marci Hersch. Hersh has been indicted on charges of terroristic threats, telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing.
Hersh called the office of President Barbara Snyder three times last month and threatened a mass shooting after becoming angry that she was unable to contact Snyder. Hersh made the calls from a local mental health facility but later said the threat was not serious. According to the Cleveland Fox 8 I-Team, “Hersh has been prosecuted before for stalking former co-workers at [CWRU].” A trial for Hersh will take place later this month.
This is not the university’s first close encounter with a shooting. In 2003, a gunman killed one person and injured two others, and in November 2018, a student was shot in Murray Hill during a carjacking. On Tuesday, Feb. 12, a little past midnight, there were reports of an active shooter in Uptown. These events have many students wondering what to do in the case of an active shooter.
CWRU has a five step plan for how students and staff should react to a shooter on campus. These steps include calling the police, locking buildings down and evacuating. CWRU advises bystanders to “counter the active shooter by throwing items at his/her head, creating noise, attacking, creating chaos.” These steps are compliant with A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), an active shooter response program followed by the CWRU Police Department.
The Department of Homeland Security mirrors this advice and adds that one should “take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.” They advise to only attempt to counter an active shooter as a last resort when they are at “close range.”
CWRU offers other safety protocol, such as what to do if a student or staff member receives a bomb threat over the phone. It includes listening to the caller’s distinguishing voice characteristics and trying to stay on the phone as long as possible while asking questions like “Where is the bomb located?”
Luckily, this threat remained nothing more than a threat, but it is important that students and staff follow the protocol laid out by CWRU if a shooting or other incident were to actually occur. Procedures for various emergency situations can be found online on the CWRU website.