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An (Unsurprising, Yet Scary) Gun Threat

The iconic CITGO sign at Kenmore Square, where the manhunt for the suspect ended. Picture taken by Ryan LaRosa

On Tuesday, Oct. 16th, Boston University students received a notification of a man spotted with a gun from BU Alert Services during the afternoon, the busiest time for students. With each message update across the span of an hour, the man was getting closer to campus and the situation grew more intense.

1:25 p.m.

I search up where Landmark Center is and it’s at a good distance from campus. Last week in the same area, there were also reports of gunfire, which turned out to be the sound of popping balloons.

I get a sense that the man must be of some threat. As I get off the school shuttle, I tell myself the police will take care of the situation. I head to class with mixed feelings.

1:37 p.m.

A friend from class texts me that she is working at Landmark Center. Even though a new text alert said the man is no longer near her office, I tense up.

In the span of 20 minutes, I receive a string of texts, calls, voicemails, and emails from BU Alert Service about the suspect’s physical description and his whereabouts.

2:06 p.m.

A firearm? Barnes and Noble? That’s just a block or two away from the dining hall, dormitory buildings, and classrooms. The building I took my midterm in earlier is another block down the street.

In between the countless BU Alert notifications, my friends are texting each other to stay safe. A past floormate says that his class in the Kenmore area just got locked down. This is when I start to realize the weight of this situation.

Everything and everyone dear to me could be in danger. These are my friends, my school, and my second home in threat.

I think back to a presentation last week at the 2018 PRSSA National Conference by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumni and March For Our Livesmovement organizers, Brendan Duff and Delaney Tarr. Although they shared how they turned the tragedy into a global organization and movement, I am only reminded of what started it all – the shooting. After meeting the survivors face-to-face, the possibility of a tragedy on my own campus seemed more likely.

Delaney Tarr shares her background leading up to the Parkland shooting and March For Our Lives movement at the 2018 PRSSA National Conference in Austin, Texas.

2:30 p.m.

Fortunately, as details reveal later, the alleged firearm was an airsoft pellet gun and the police took care of the suspect quickly before any harm was done. We are 30 minutes into class when the situation is cleared, but I can’t stop reflecting on the past hour.

As tense as I was, I found myself unsurprised by the report of a gun threat on campus. According to CNN, on average, there has been one school shooting each week from January to May this year. And the sad reality is, with most schools back in session now, it feels like there are bound to be more.

So what can we do? Duff and Tarr answered, “Registering and voting is the bare minimum.”  Our age should not be a barrier to voicing our worries in society. Just as the incident above could have harmed my loved ones, the issues we read about in the news affect us too. No matter how young we are, we are still members of our community, our society, and our country.

By Alicia Lee

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