A total of 142 individuals have signed up for the UTM campus text alert system, RAVE, since the campus-wide lockdown occurred on March 21. This brings the total number of subscribers to 13,000 people.
This number includes not only students, faculty and staff, but also alumni and family members who want to stay informed about the well-being of those that they care about in an emergency situation.
The text messages are sent out in situations of imminent danger and include information about the best actions to take. According to Scott Robbins, director of the Department of Public Safety, it only took took two minutes and 42 seconds to send out 7,300 text messages.
“One of the first things people can do is get the word out,” Robbins said. “…We didn’t know if there was still a danger to our campus population. That’s why we issued the text.”
The cause for alarm was a shot fired on Hannings Lane by UTM sophomore Criminal Justice student Tommy Fuller, 21.
The incident began with a physical altercation outside of the university center between Fuller and three other unidentified individuals. Public Safety responded to the incident and settled the dispute. The conflict then resumed on Hannings Lane, when Fuller fired a shot at the individuals when he saw them again in an apartment complex driveway.
The Martin Police Department responded to the 911 call. All local 911 calls are received by the MPD, regardless of location. UTM public safety attends to matters within their Clery geography, which extends to the edges of university streets and within areas that students meet.
“What people have to understand is, this was very complicated because there were two crime scenes,” MPD Captain Phillip Fuqua said about the different jurisdictions. “You had the physical altercation at the university center then you had the gun play on Hannings Lane.”
Two MPD officers in the area shortly conducted a felony traffic stop and detained Fuller. Four handguns were found inside his vehicle. One of the guns had been reported as stolen in St. Louis, Missouri, although Fuller claimed to have purchased it from one of the other men. Fuller was charged with reckless endangerment, unlawful possession of a firearm and theft of property. His case was bound over to the Weakley County Circuit Court grand jury on March 29 and will be presented on May 2. If the jury chooses to indict, the arraignment will take place on May 9. Fuller is currently being held at the Weakley County Detention Center.
The other individuals were reported as driving a 2005 two-door black Mazda. They were located and questioned within two to three days, according to Fuqua. No other charges were made, and no one was hurt.
The campus “all clear” was given 34 minutes after the lockdown alert.
Public safety officials issue lockdowns based on perceived imminent danger to the campus population occurring within the Clery geography. Lockdowns are actions taken to contain a situation and “shelter in place” is the act of securing yourself in your present location, according to the Emergency Response Plan.
To plan for armed shooter situations, UTM’s public safety officers train with MPD members twice a year.
On campus, Lt. Jerry Garcia teaches students, faculty and staff what to do if they encounter an active shooter through his “Run, Hide, Fight” presentations.
A campus-wide drill will occur in the Fall 2017 semester to better practice these procedures. A date has yet to be announced.
To find more information about the appropriate actions to take during an emergency situation, visit https://www.utm.edu/departments/publicsafety/.