Shots reported near Mercer campus Wednesday night

Shots fired at Mercer University

According to a statement from university president Bill Underwood, a man fired six shots at a group of current and former Mercer students around 10 p.m. Wednesday night near the intersection of Coleman and Linden Avenues.

No one was hurt, but some students say it took too long for campus police to alert students about the situation.

School senior Kyle Mullins says he was nearby and saw people running.

Watching from his apartment window, Mullins said, "We (could) kinda hear someone say, 'Oh man, some guy is shooting at us.'"

No one was injured but some allege campus officials should have done more to warn students of the danger.

According to Lt. Sean Defoe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, a call came in to 911 Dispatch at 10:03 p.m. and campus police was notified. Mercer University officials didn't notify students until 10:47 p.m., leading some to get their information elsewhere.

"We heard about it way before we heard anything from MERPO," says Mercer junior Noemi Griffin. "So like my friend texted me, she's like, 'I'm pretty sure people just got shot near Margs or something.'"

Again, no one was hit, but rumors had plenty of time fly. From the time of the initial 911 call to the first campus alert sent to students, 44 minutes passed. 

School senior vice president Larry Brumley says school police were working to secure the area and gather facts.

"You always have to balance getting accurate and helpful information out in a timely fashion," says Brumley. "If you don't have your information correct and you send it out it can be more harmful."

For Noemi Griffin, 44 minutes is just too long.

"If a lot of people can hear it, I know they heard it, so I don't really know why it comes so late," says Griffin. "It'd be really nice if it could come timely."

In a statement, university president Bill Underwood says he's forming an outside review of the campus alert system which he says "took too long to advise the campus community."

As for the cause of this incident, police are still investigating.

Like cities and towns, college campuses have to report their crime numbers to the FBI.

The numbers for 2017 aren't in yet, but Mercer reported six violent crimes in the previous two years: three robberies and three aggravated assaults.

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Mercer University says someone fired six gunshots at a group of students near campus Wednesday night.

An email from University President William Underwood called it a "frightening and dangerous incident."

He said it happened around 10 p.m. near the intersection of Linden and Coleman avenues. That's next to campus and the Mercer Village business district.

As the group of four students and a recent graduate walked through the area, Underwood wrote, a person sitting on a bench moved toward them and fired the shots.

No one was hit, and the shooter ran off toward the Huguenin Heights neighborhood, toward Oglethorpe Street. He said police have a description of the shooter.

Underwood said the university will increase patrols near Mercer Village "for the forseeable future."

He said he is posting a $10,000 reward in the case.

He said he's also asking for an outside review ot the campus alert system, "which took too long to advise the campus community of the incident."

Underwood advised students that counseling is available through the school's Student Life Office and offered to meet with any concerned students this week.

He said anyone who sees suspicious persons on or off campus should call campus police at (478) 301-4357. He said campus police are also available to provide escorts.

Lt. Sean DeFoe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office says officers responded last night to the Linden Street area but did not see the shooter.

 

 

 

 

 

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