Last night City of Pittsburgh police received a call for an active shooter incident at Hillman Library that was determined to be unfounded. When City of Pittsburgh officers responded, one of them discharged his weapon into a glass door in a construction area to enter and assist in clearing the building. This caused understandable alarm. There were no injuries and there was no shooter. Complicating matters was the Emergency Notification System (ENS) message that went out was both delayed and flawed while officers were dispatched to a similar call in Mervis Hall. To address the ENS issue, we are currently reviewing the system and retraining our communicators. In both the incident at the local high school 10 days ago and in this hoax incident last night, Pitt Police responded swiftly to the buildings and assisted with clearing them. Several law enforcement agencies continue investigating
the crimes. Still there are questions from both incidents, and we hope the resources below will begin to answer community concerns.
We also understand the hoax incidents over the last few weeks are potentially dangerous themselves and distressing. Please know that student support space will be open today (April 11) in the O’Hara Student Center, from noon to 2 p.m. Our Campus Crisis Support team will be available to connect with and assist students during that time. The Campus Crisis Support Team is comprised of faculty and staff volunteers who have received specialized training to respond to critical incidents. Students may also call the University Counseling Center at 412-648-7930 at any time to speak directly with a clinician. Faculty and staff may receive counseling services through Life Solutions by calling 1-866-647-3432. We also urge you to review the following resources:
CIVILIAN ACTIVE KILLER RESPONSE: Active killer situations are often fluid and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Please review the response guidelines, video and resources. Pitt advocates the RUN-HIDE-FIGHT approach developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in response to active killer incidents. The RUN-HIDE-FIGHT concept is flexible, and must be, due to the nature of these violent and uncontrolled incidents. It is further described in the video.
ENS: First, you can and should expect to receive an ENS message in active killer situation. An ENS message is issued by police upon police confirmation of a significant emergency and where its use will not compromise the emergency response. Starting last week, communications specialists are being further trained and tested through exercises. All University members are automatically subscribed to receive ENS messages by email. You are strongly encouraged to sign up for optional text and phone messages as well. ENS messaging will also be sent via Pitt Police social media. You should tell each other if you receive an ENS message as some people may not have yet seen the message.
We know you want information quickly. The information you will receive in an ENS message will be minimal and accurate and designed to give brief instruction on what you can do to keep yourself safe. Follow-up instruction and further details about an incident when they are available will be posted at emergency.pitt.edu. Please remember that the police are actively determining what is happening and may not have the facts to consistently relay to the community. We understand you may want more information and want it faster. Public Safety’s goal will also continue to be to provide accurate information, so the content may be quite limited as officers gain an understanding of the situation. We can and will do better with the technology.
BUILDING LOCKDOWN: Pitt has the ability to remotely lockdown the majority of its buildings. Use of this technology will be a police decision and depend upon the situation. In a lockdown, people cannot enter a building or space but can always exit. In a lockdown situation you should stay in your space and not leave the building unless another emergency compels you to leave. While Pitt cannot “force” you to stay, when a lockdown occurs it is most prudent to stay put and await further direction or the “all clear” message. If you are outside of a locked down building and cannot enter, you should continue traveling in a direction away from the last known threat. Find an alternative space that is a significant distance from the known incident. There are more than 100 buildings on campus of various shapes, sizes, ages and peculiarities. Police do not take locking down lightly and a decision is not automatically rendered. When the situation is resolved, an ENS message signaling “All Clear” will be issued. Once that message is issued personnel will begin reverting buildings and entries to their normal operating status and this may take some time and we ask for your patience.
Please know Pitt Police will make every effort to both respond and inform you. Likewise, we will be messaging additional information about building alarms and additional emergency procedures in the coming days. If you have additional questions related to responding to active killer incidents and threats, please contact the Pitt Police Community Relations team at 412-624-4040.