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Students react to bomb threat

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 18:09

outside university

Staci Vandagriff, Photo Editor

Residents of University Hall sit outside the Student Union after they were forced to evacuate Tuesday afternoon due to a bomb threat. It wasn’t until the ASU Emergency Alert System sent out a message at 3:06 p.m. that students were aware of the bomb threat.

carlon walker

Courtesy of Craighead County Sheriff’s Office

Carlon Walker, a 44-year-old of Jonesboro, reported bombs in University Hall on Tuesday, causing two building to evacuate.

After the first bomb threat in several years on the Arkansas State University campus, students have had mixed emotions toward the actions that took place on Tuesday afternoon.

When the entire campus received a notification from ASU’s emergency alert system at 3:05 p.m., they were told to evacuate University Hall, which houses nearly 400 first-year female students. The International Student Center was also evacuated at that time due to its close location.

Several students were in the building when a fire alarm went off, alerting the students to leave the building.

Shaye Davis, a freshman undecided major of Hot Springs, was one of these students.

“I was watching a movie when the fire alarm went off,” Davis said. “We were told to go on top of the hill and then we got the text message.”

During the few hours the building were evacuated, UPD conducted a room-by-room sweep of University Hall with a bomb detecting dog provided by the Crittendon County sheriff’s department.

“The safety of our students is always our first concern,” Rich Stripling, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said in a press release. “The university always wants to ensure all safety procedures are followed and that students are properly  not ified when any unforeseen event occurs on our campus.”

Several students said they were scared when they received the alert from ASU.

“It was really scary because we had no clue if it was actually true or not,” Shelby Tiner said, a freshman undecided major of Monticello. “We were all worried about whether or not they would find the person who did it.”

At around 5:37 p.m., the university gave the all-clear for the students to go back into the building.

Soon after, the suspect responsible for the bomb threat was caught and arrested by Arkansas State police officers.

The suspect, 44-year-old Carlon Walker who is not an ASU student, made his first appearance in court Wednesday where he was charged with several offenses.

Craighead District Judge Keith Blackman found probable cause to charge Carlon Walker several times, including a felony count of communicating a false alarm.

Other charges include a felony count of breaking and entering, a felony count of criminal intent theft of property and a misdemeanor count of criminal.

According to a KAIT article, Walker told Blackman that he “needs help” and UPD requested the judge to set the bond high, citing that Walker poses a danger to the community.

According to an affidavit obtained by KAIT, Walker was initially found inside a truck belonging to someone else. When Walker was detained, he said “he was a sergeant and there were 43 bombs in his truck” and that “he was there to diffuse the bombs in that building,” gesturing to University Hall.

SGA President Hunter Petrus said he thought the university handled the situation well, and feels comfortable that if there were a real bomb on campus, the students would be safe.

“Anytime something like that happens, it’s definitely a surreal moment,” Petrus said. “Our UPD and JPD handled it very well. I’m really glad they caught the person, and luckily it was just a dud.”

 

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