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Division of Public Safety
April 24, 2007, Volume 53, No. 31

Response to Carjacking, Shooting Incident & Virginia Tech Tragedy
April 17, 2007

We would like to share with the entire University Community the outcome of a carjacking and shooting incident involving Penn Police yesterday, as well as take this opportunity to update the community about our comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, in response to the horrific and senseless tragedy on the Virginia Tech campus.

At approximately 11 a.m. on April 16, 2007, there was a series of crimes on campus, including an attempted auto theft and multiple attempted carjackings before a male, brandishing a firearm, stole a vehicle from a driver on Spruce Street, near 33rd Street, which ended in a car crash between 40th and 41st. He fled the scene, with a Penn Police officer following him. There was an ensuing struggle, where the offender attempted to take control of the officer’s service weapon, during the course of which, the weapon was discharged, striking the offender. He was transported to HUP in critical condition, and was pronounced dead shortly after the incident. Many civilians and Penn Police officers faced a potentially deadly situation yesterday in the pursuit of this individual, and we are all grateful that in the wake of his personal crime spree, no member of our community was seriously injured or killed.

The horrific events at Virginia Tech University involving the killing of 33 people, with many others injured, highlights the importance of having protocols and procedures in place to address various types of emergencies that can occur on a college campus, including a live shooting incident. The Division of Public Safety, in conjunction with the University administration, has worked diligently since 2001 to secure a comprehensive plan and infrastructure that prepares Penn and the University City community to address emergencies affecting our campus.

The incident that occurred at Virginia Tech is known as an active shooter incident. Penn Police, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police, are trained tactically, strategically and operationally to respond to an active shooter incident, which is defined as: A situation in which people are being killed or seriously injured by actor(s) in a public space (school/college campus, workplace, movie theaters, etc.), whereby delaying the deployment of law enforcement resources could otherwise result in death or great bodily injury to innocent persons.

The Division of Public Safety would like to assure the University community that our emergency response personnel are fully-equipped to respond to, and manage a crisis of this nature, and that additionally, DPS, in conjunction with the University administration, would execute the multiple components of our crisis management plan, including efficient and up-to-date communications.

The safety and security of Penn and the University community is our highest priority. Yesterday’s incident involving Penn Police directly, is indicative of the extraordinarily high-level of violence facing the city of Philadelphiaour police and security personnel responded efficiently, quickly, and professionally, and most importantly, in a manner that did not compromise the safety of our Penn community.

Violent crime can assume many forms, and the community members of Virginia Tech experienced an absolute worst case scenario yesterday. Our own emergency planning must include every possible contingency that could occur on and off campus here at Penn, from a natural disaster, to an act of terrorism, to an active shooter, to any incident of violent crime perpetrated against our valued community members. We ask that all of you be involved in our emergency preparedness planning, by actively participating in our evacuation and shelter-in-place drills, and understanding that these drills can be an effective tool in keeping our community members alive should there be an actual emergency. The men and women of the Division of Public Safety, in turn, will continue to practice and strategize every single day for how we can as a Division, and as a University, ensure that our students, staff and faculty, can study work and live in the safest environment possible.

—Maureen S. Rush, Vice President for Public Safety

Almanac - April 24, 2007, Volume 53, No. 31