Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College, took to the microphone Monday afternoon in an "open forum" setting to allow staff and students at the state's largest community college to sound off and asks questions about an incident last week that resulted in the campus being locked down for most of the day.
The event was intended to allow students and staff to "ask questions, and share their thoughts, feelings and concerns," according to the Manchester Community College website. In addition to Glickman responding to questions and queries, Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy and Master Sergeant Mike Davis, the campus' highest ranking police officer, were also available to provide answers about the incident, which saw the campus locked down for several hours last Wednesday after an unidentified female student called 911 to report seeing a gun sticking out of a male student's waistband. Members of the media were barred from the event, which took place in the SBM auditorium, and had to watch it on a live feed in a different room.
"We were very fortunate that this was not an active shooter case," Glickman told the audience. "This was a different situation."
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After an extensive search of the campus last Wednesday, which took almost five hours, no one matching the description of the alleged gunman was found on campus, but another student was found to be in possession of a handgun during the search. The unidentified student had a permit to carry the gun, and Davis said the student was "a member of law enforcement." But, when asked, Davis said the student was violating MCC's no weapons policy, even though the student was not breaking any laws by carrying the gun which he had a permit for; Davis and other Manchester Community College police do not carry guns.
"If you're permitted, it is legal to carry a firearm on campus, but you are violating the policy," Davis told the crowd. "You're in violation of the policy, but you won't be arrested."
When asked, Glickman said she did not know whether the student would face any disciplinary action from MCC for violating the school's no weapons policy. She said she planned to discuss the matter with MCC's Dean of Student Affairs G. Duncan Harris.
Some students complained about the amount of time it took police to search the campus, and the lack of reliable information that was provided over the school's PA system as the search was taking place. Glickman said improved communication is an area that MCC is going to evaluate in future emergency drills, but that it was necessary to ensure the campus was secure and there was no imminent threat before police began escorting students out of the campus' various buildings.
"The situation that we always try to prepare for is the worst possible scenario," Glickman said.
An unidentified student, who said he served in the military, was concerned that a police officer accidentally discharged a round during the search. The bullet struck an unidentified officer in the foot, and the injuries were described as "non-life threatening," but the student wondered why the gun's safety was off and what would have happened if the officer or another bystander had not been so lucky.
Montminy said that the investigation into the incident was still continuing "as we speak" and that, at this point, he could not provide any more specifics into it.
"That's one of the questions that we're looking into, why did the round discharge?" Montminy said.
Porsche Jones, an MCC student from out of state, said she hoped last week's incident would lead to better communication and understanding among students on campus, because she feels that the campus has an "automated" feel and that students do not interact with each other enough.
"Compassion on campus, a little more friendship, I think that would go a long way to preventing situations like this and maybe people should think about how they should react the next time," she said.