A shooting incident near campus Sunday led ACUPD to send out text and email alerts to notify students after the gunshot – as well as sightings of a man fleeing from police – caused concern among students and campus neighbors.
ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison said a perceived threat to campus and the neighborhoods west of campus where some off-campus students, faculty and staff reside caused a surge of calls to ACUPD.
These two incidents caused some students to share with friends and family that there was a “shooter loose in the area” or there had “been a shooting on campus,” Ellison said.
According to the ALERT email sent out on Sunday night, as more police units arrived in the area and began to search for that suspect, a police perimeter was set-up for a search.
“Your ACUPD wants you to feel safe on and around our great campus. Part of feeling safe is feeling informed,” the email said. “Decisions to send out emergency alerts are not made lightly, but unfortunately, decisions to send or not send ALERTS often have to be made using the best information available at the moment.”
Ellison said the shooting was related to a domestic disturbance nearby, and that the suspect was not a current student. According to police, 31-year-old Christopher Michael Muñoz, a Buffalo Gap resident, was in his car with his ex-girlfriend in the 500 block of EN 18th Street, two blocks west of the main campus, when his handgun discharged, wounding him in the arm.
Muñoz was arrested at the scene and charged with deadly conduct, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. He was released the next day on $3000 bond.
The ACUPD messages advised students to stay away from the area until the situation was handled and that the person who fled police was not connected to the shooting. Police said the shot was accidentally self-inflicted and not life-threatening.
Ellison said it is understandable that the reaction from students and parents was fear, causing panic and rumor.
“Any incidents involving a shooting on or near any campus immediately strikes fear in everyone,” Ellison said.
Ellison said he believes social media and texting played a part with how fast the misinformation spread across campus.
Although ACUPD implemented emergency messaging protocols, because this was not an actual active shooter situation no active shooter protocols were needed. ACUPD’s active shooter protocols. These protocols follow the national model: AVOID, DENY, or DEFEND.
“Run or avoid the shooter if you can,” Ellison said. “Get away if at all possible.”
If this does not work, he said, the person should “Hide or deny if you can’t run.” They should eliminate any signs of their presence and deny the shooter access to the room.
“Fight or Defend, as a last option, if you can’t run, if you can’t hide, make a personal decision to fight at all costs,” he said.
Ellison said ACUPD regularly trains its officers and the community for these situations so that quick decisions can be made.