The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Two shootings, one alert

Students did not receive warning of shooting block from campus Aug. 27
EIU PD Squad Car 42

On Aug. 15, at around 3 p.m., shots rang out at Domino’s on Lincoln Avenue. 

The shooting prompted two Alert EIU notifications that were emailed to all students and staff. One Alert EIU message was sent at 3:22 and the other at 4 p.m. 

The second alert added that information indicated the suspect was headed northbound. In a news release posted to Facebook at 4:34 p.m. the same day, the Charleston Police Department said that it had responded to the Domino’s to investigate a report of a male shot in the arm. An update posted on Aug. 21 stated that a juvenile subject was put in custody. 

Twelve days later, on Aug. 27, at 1:44 a.m., the sound of three gunshots could be heard to the north of campus, just over 800 feet away from Old Main. 

There was no alert notification in reference to this shots fired incident unlike the Aug. 15 incident. 

Police records show that upon arriving on scene, officers located three shell casings at the Millenium Apartments near Fourth Street and Buchanan Avenue. 

A University Police Department officer located the suspect nine minutes after initial shots were fired. After a brief foot pursuit, two UPD officers arrested the suspect at the 1400 block of Fourth Street. 

In the suspect’s front sweatshirt pocket, officers found a Glock 27 firearm with an extended magazine in it, records said. The firearm had a round in the chamber and had been reported stolen by the Hammond Police Department, according to police records. 

In an interview, UPD Police Chief Marisol Gamboa said an alert was not necessary for the Aug. 27 incident. 

“We believe that it wasn’t necessary to send that message out for that one,” Gamboa said. 

Gamboa said it was not deemed to be a safety risk for campus. 

Gamboa stated the legal requirements for sending an alert notice in an email. “By federal law, EIU is only required to send emergency notifications if the event is currently occurring on or immediately threatening campus and only upon confirmation of the situation,” Gamboa said. 

Court records show the 20-year-old suspect, Jalon Lomax, was charged with four felonies including the use of a stolen firearm in the act of an offense. Lomax’s bond was set at $50,000, with 10 percent to apply. He posted on Aug. 30, with the court date set Sept. 25. 

Alert EIU is part of a larger system called the Eastern Illinois University Campus Emergency Notification System. The system is composed of five means of communication including written forms of communication, coverage on the WEIU TV and radio platforms, a campuswide intercom system and a phone tree. 

Alert EIU encompasses the text notification portion of the system, though any text is automatically sent as an email to all students and staff as well. 

The purpose of the notification system is to advise students, faculty, staff and workers when there is a campus emergency. 

Eastern’s director of environmental health and emergency management, Kris Phipps, said the volume is intended to reach people on campus, no matter where they are. 

A timely warning is a stipulation provided in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act or Clery Act, according to Eastern’s 2022’s annual security report

In the event of a violent or criminal emergency, UPD is first in charge of sending out an alert. Should an officer respond to an emergency that may pose a risk to the campus, the officer is to report to UPD’s first and second in command. 

“The officers are responsible for notifying me or Lieutenant [Michael] Lusk, who’s second in command, and then from there we determine if we are required by federal law to send out a message,” Gamboa said. 

Gamboa said that she has message templates preconfigured in order to allow for timely alerts in the event of an emergency. She said that following an alert of a dangerous situation, an all clear alert will be sent as well.

UPD officials will send out an alert when there is a critical situation that warrants stark timeliness and may involve immediate danger. 

“As far as an active shooter situation, we’re not going to meet with everybody to see if we’re going to send an email. We’re just going to send it out,” Gamboa said. 

In other emergency situations, UPD officials may meet with other appointed university staff members to discuss the nature of the situation and how to notify campus, if at all. 

Phipps said Eastern has both policy and incident management groups. 

The policy group is composed of head officials of the university such as the president. 

The emergency management team includes of the university police chief and a member of the Charleston Fire Department. The activation of either of these teams is dependent on the nature of the emergency. 

T.J. Seputis can be reached at [email protected].

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