Event similar to UCF hard prevent for police at FIU

(FIUSM File Photo)

Diego Saldana/ Staff Writer

University of Central Florida police were called to the Tower I building around 12:20 a.m. after a fire alarm went off, said UCF Spokesman George Heston. While they were on their way, a 911 call came in about a man with a gun early Monday morning.

Officers arrived to find a student dead, from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, inside the dorm where he lived with three roommates.

Investigators said they discovered an assault weapon, a handgun and makeshift explosive devices in the room where the student died. Florida law prohibits guns on state university campuses.

About 500 students were evacuated from the building and morning classes were canceled.

In the event that a situation like this happened at FIU, Police Chief Alexander Casas explained to Student Media how the University would respond.

“We would handle any immediate threat and contact Miami-Dade County Police Bomb Squad and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for assistance with any devices,” Casas said.

Casas explained that there is no real way to prevent such an event from happening, but there are preventive measures that the University takes.

“It’s difficult to have a full proof blanket but it absolutely begins with awareness,” Casas said. “If you see something that is out of the ordinary, it is important that you say something. The most minute bit of information could lead to our preventing a major incident from occurring.”

Veronica Nieves, a sophomore biology major, first heard of the incident via Facebook.

“I didn’t know anything else other than that there was a mysterious death,” Nieves said.

Heston said that materials found in the dorm room made it appear that a wider attack was planned.

Police say he pulled a gun on another student, who then called police.

Nieves expressed concern after learning that there were explosives and firearms present at the UCF dormitory. She thinks such an incident is possible at the University.

“I think it is a little bit scary with everyone having an assault rifle,” Nieves said. “FIU is supposed to be a safe campus. People don’t need to bring a gun on campus, we’re safe. We’re guaranteed that.”

Vanessa Fernandez, a junior UCF finance and accounting major, received warnings from  UCF telling her to stay away from the main campus.

“I woke up at 6:30 a.m. for class and saw UCF alert texts saying all classes were cancelled till noon and that the main campus was closed,” Fernandez said. “UCF alert sent out about 5 texts warning us to stay away from the main campus due to a suspicious death.”

Casas mentioned that the majority of firearms confiscated on campus are from motor vehicles. He explained that it is usually individuals who thought they were legally carrying firearms but are unaware of the University policy that prohibits firearm possession on campus even with a concealed carry permit.

“It is the individual’s responsibility to be aware of and comply with policies and statutes,” Casas said. “Claiming to not know that an action was illegal is not a valid defense.”

Additional reporting by Kyle Hightower and Freida Frisaro of the Associated Press.