By Cait Kemp
Tuesday night, the Springfield College Police Department Instagram and Facebook accounts posted a photo of a car from the Learning Commons surveillance footage that had been reported as engaging in “suspicious activity” on campus. The post included that the occupants of the car were “shooting an air-soft gun, a gel blaster, or BB gun.”
This post left many students concerned, as it is not uncommon for students to walk Alden Street at night utilizing the library and other buildings on campus.
The next day, the College community received an email about the suspicious activity from Public Safety. This gave more details about the incidents, reporting that between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, two groups of students were shot at with an air-soft gun from the car. Only one student was hit by the air-soft gun and was not injured in any way.
Due to the timing of the reports in accordance to when the incidents happened, Chief of Police Joe Tiraboschi decided that posting on social media would be the quickest and most effective way to inform students and the community about what was going on.
“When it comes to the time of the report and the time of the incident, those are really crucial in what steps we would take,” Tiraboschi said. “Due to the fact that there was some time gap between the actual incident and when it was reported to us, and the second report was even after the first, we wanted to get something out quickly to our community.”
He continued, “We know social media is a popular platform for students to check after hours late at night and then in the afternoon when we sent out that email to kind of give the whole community a sense of what occurred, how we are looking into it and try to ask for help from the community to let us know if they see anything so we can further look into this.”
Tiraboschi communicated the incident with Vice President for Student Affairs, Slandie Dieujuste, in order to make sure that the administration of the College was aware of the situation as well.
“There is certainly concern and I appreciate the Chief’s leadership in this,” Dieujuste said. “We are always on high alert when it comes to students’ safety.”
It appears to the police department to be a random act, however Tiraboschi urges students to travel in groups late at night and report any suspicious activity when they see anything. The police department is continuing to investigate the incident and search for the vehicle and operator to figure out what happened and hold the individual accountable, but it is not believed to be a continuous threat for the campus.
Coming up next weekend is Halloween, which is also rumored to be ‘gang initiation’ in the city of Springfield.
“That’s a rumor that goes through the campus. Every single time Halloween hits, we hear this rumor of ‘gang initiation,’” Tiraboschi said. “It’s something that we put on our radar as Public Safety, but at the same time it’s no different than any other weekend.”
Campus police will be patrolling areas of campus as they normally do each weekend so Tiraboschi encourages students to stay in groups with friends, be aware of their surroundings and not be afraid to call and report anything they may see or experience when out on weekends.
If students do not feel safe going out on the weekend, there are many events that are occurring on campus for Halloween that students can participate in.
“We have a number of activities planned on campus to give students options if they don’t want to go off campus,” Dieujuste said. “I met with my staff and we talked about adding more to Saturday night to give students an option to be here if they feel like they need to be here.”
The campus police department is committed to keeping students safe and are always available and transparent about what they can do to help the College community.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College