The University community was inundated with campus-wide alerts and circling helicopters Wednesday evening when a man was shot outside a barbershop just blocks away from campus.

According to an article published Wednesday night on the Eyewitness News website, the victim was a man in his early 20s who was shot in the leg outside Major League Barbershop on Williams Street between Broad Street and Main Street. The article reported that the Middletown Police Department described the suspects as three or four men clad in red and black, all of whom fled from the scene after the shooting.

Director of Public Safety David Meyer explained that the Middletown Police Department (MPD) notified Public Safety (PSafe) about the shooting shortly after it occurred. PSafe officers were quickly deployed to the area to help the Middletown Police secure a perimeter.

The incident prompted the first non-test usage of the University’s Emergency Notification System, which uses phone calls, e-mails and text message to alert the campus community about safety incidents on or around campus.

“We respond to these things because they are serious,” Meyer said. “When it’s so close to campus, we need to inform the campus community.”

The campus was first notified about the shooting through a campus-wide Public Safety announcement just after 6 p.m on Wednesday evening. The e-mail explained that a shooting had occurred off campus on Williams Street at approximately 5:25 p.m. This preliminary e-mail assured the community that no members of the University were thought to be involved, and also explained that a search was still in process for the five to seven suspects who fled the scene following the shooting.

This initial alert was followed-up within just a couple hours by a campus-wide text message and automated phone call from Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley, as well as further e-mail alerts.

Meyer explained that the Emergency Notification System, which was first implemented in the spring of 2007, had been tested, but never applied in a real-life situation.

While there is no set rule about when the full notification system is put into place, Meyer noted that the University’s first priority after Wednesday’s shooting was to act quickly.

“This isn’t something you have time to hold a meeting about,” he said. “I think it’s important to always err on the side of caution and that’s what we did. We informed people so they could take their own precautionary measures.”

Meyer explained that he, Whaley and a few other University staff members have the authority to use the notification system. In this case, PSafe sent out the preliminary e-mail and then notified Whaley so that he could deliver the phone message while Meyer continued dealing with the situation.

Since this is the first time the notification system has been implemented, the University hopes to hear feedback. Students’ E-Portfolios now contain a link that connects to a small feedback survey about the notification system. Additionally, Whaley sent out an all-campus e-mail yesterday encouraging students to provide feedback.

“We want to fine-tune our procedure after something like this to figure out what we did right, what we can do better,” Meyer said. “We want to hear a lot of feedback after this.”

A final alert e-mail from PSafe on Wednesday night explained that helicopters completed a search of the area surrounding the shooting, and MPD and PSafe believe the University community is in no imminent danger. One suspect is still being pursued, however, and the MPD encourages anyone with information to contact it.

Although the situation was alarming for those involved, Meyer felt that the University handled the situation well.

“We can’t just lock the gates,” Meyer said. “Wesleyan isn’t like an elementary school where you have five entrances and you can just close them all off. So you can’t lock down per se as a campus. But you can inform and you can communicate—all the things we tried to do in this case.”

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