Gunshots disrupt large crowds on Troy campus

Published 6:37 pm Sunday, October 16, 2016

University officials confirmed Sunday that shots were fired shortly after midnight outside Sartain Hall, where large crowds had gathered for an annual fundraising event hosted by Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

No one was injured, according to Herb Reeves, Dean of Students.

“I’ve heard estimates that there were 2,500 to 3,000 people in that area, both inside Sartain and outside the event,” Reeves said. In addition, several hundred people remained in Shackleford Quad, where they had gathered to tailgate for the homecoming game on Saturday.

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The gunshots – some reports estimate five shots were heard in the crowd – sent hundreds of people fleeing from the area. “That’s when we shut down the event and started sending people away,” Reeves said. University students were alerted via text message about 12:30 a.m. to remain inside until the campus had been cleared. An all-cleared was issued about 1:30 a.m.

Randall Barr, City of Troy Police Chief, said Troy police initially received reports that shots were fired from a vehicle headed toward George Wallace Drive. “But they were unable to identify the vehicle,” he said.

During the next six hours, police continued to receive reports of shots being fired throughout the community and on campus, including unconfirmed reports of shots being fired on Fraternity Row.

“When the initial shots were fired, people went behind Hawkins (Hall) down toward Fraternity Row to get away from Sartain,” Reeves told The Tropolitan. “There was a call that came from down around Fraternity Row there had been shots fired.”

Barr said it is likely that report and others on campus came from individuals who were fleeing the Sartain Hall incident. “We got out on foot and walked Fraternity Row, but couldn’t find anyone to verify that report,” he said.

Barr said Troy Police continued to receive reports of shots being fired for several hours. “We had reports of shots being fired all over: the Huddle House, the Waffle House, the Z-Tech … we even had reports of someone in a vehicle driving north of U.S. 231 firing shots into the air,” he said.

One call came from the 300 block of Jane Road, the same area where a Troy student died in an early Friday morning shooting incident. “The call from Jane Road was actually reporting vehicle on 231 firing shots from the window,” Barr said.

Most of those reports were unconfirmed, as officers found bystanders unwilling or unable to provide information. “We even had officers who reported hearing shots being fired, but they couldn’t confirm where they came from,” Barr said.

A vehicle at Waffle House south was hit by gunfire and one gunshot victim was treated at Troy Regional Medical Center. “But she wouldn’t tell us anything about what happened,” he said.

On campus, large crowds congested traffic flow and posed challenges for emergency response personnel. Medical calls included at least one individual having a panic attack and reports of two individuals who had been shot by TASERs by university police. “We actually had three individuals who were TASERed, but one pulled out the prongs and got away,” Reeves said. “We had two people detailed for disorderly conduct, and neither were university students.”

Barr said city police responded to 100 calls between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday and made about seven arrests, including charges for driving under the influence; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia; and other warrant charges.

Officials have not been able to identify the source of the original gunfire on campus. “We hope someone will come forward with information,” Reeves said.

Reeves said university and fraternity officials will meet Monday to review the incident. Ticket sales for the annual fundraiser are open to the public, and Reeves said many people who attended or who gathered outside the event were not students or connected to the university.

“I can say that our students were very cooperative as we started to clear everyone out,” Reeves said. “The fraternity members were very cooperative last night and I don’t really know what they could have done differently.”