Patterico's Pontifications

12/15/2007

LSU Shootings Spark Concerns; Anger (Updated)

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 1:04 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

UPDATE 12/15/2007: I want to express my condolences to the families and friends of the LSU students who were murdered.

Two LSU Ph.D. students were murdered in campus housing yesterday, apparently in connection with a robbery, and the murders have caused understandable concerns about safety:

Authorities Friday were searching for three men seen rushing Thursday night from the area of the LSU apartments where two doctoral students were shot to death. The bodies of Chandrasekhar Reddy Komma, 31, of Hyderabad, India, and Kiran Kumar Allam, 33, of Kurnool, India, were found late Thursday evening.

No arrests had been made by Friday night, and no suspects named. But a task force of several law enforcement agencies was trying “to identify and locate three young black men who were seen hurriedly leaving the vicinity,” Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Sgt. Don Kelly said in a news release Friday evening.

The men got into a small to midsize four-door car, possibly occupied by a fourth person acting as the driver, Kelly said. The car was seen leaving the complex with its headlights off, headed south on Gov. Claiborne Drive, he said, and the lights were turned back on as it turned west onto Aster Street.

Komma and Allam were slain at the Edward Gay Apartments, near West Roosevelt Street, LSU Chancellor Sean O’Keefe said at a news conference Friday morning. Both were shot in the head.

They “appeared to be targeted for reasons unknown,” O’Keefe said. “This does not appear to be a random event.”

There have also been reports of anger at how LSU handled the notification of students that an event had occurred on campus:

University officials sent out an emergency text message to the 25 percent of LSU students, faculty and workers who had registered their cell phones with the university’s emergency text-message system, O’Keefe said. But some of those people did not receive the message, he said. The company that runs the service is trying to find out what the problem was, he said.

University officials also sent out a broadcast e-mail to people at LSU and posted a message to the LSU Web site.

Gerard Braud, a crisis communications specialist who runs Mandeville-based Braud Communications, said LSU failed to properly practice its emergency communications systems. Braud said his daughter is an LSU student who is supposed to receive the text alerts but did not. “She’s pretty upset because she and her whole sorority house didn’t get any notification,” Braud said. “My daughter was freaking out this morning because she didn’t know what to do.”

Students were first notified via e-mail of the shootings more than 90 minutes after police responded. Braud argued that warnings to students should have been sent out within the hour. Braud took particular aim at one university e-mail that read, ‘The tragic homicides that took place on campus Thursday evening provided an opportunity for the university to test its new emergency text-message system.’ “The system should have been tested the week it was installed,” Braud said, “not on a day when it needed to potentially save lives.”

LSU spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said in an e-mail response to the criticism about the testing that “There had been some small-scale tests, but this was the first time the entire system had been tested.”

It makes sense that LSU’s notification system might have problems the first time it was used. Colleges frequently use the emergency notification system to warn of weather and security problems, and I’m surprised LSU hasn’t used its system before now.

— DRJ

43 Responses to “LSU Shootings Spark Concerns; Anger (Updated)”

  1. I think the notification system is a bit stupid. Guns would be more effective.

    However, being that they’d bought and paid for the notification system, not fully testing it to see if it works was bordering on criminally stupid.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Another “empty holster” in the efforts of academe to secure those in its’ care.

    Didn’t these people grow up in areas where warning sirens were regularly tested in the 50’s and 60’s. Just becasue it’s the latest high-tech whiz-band, doesn’t mean that there is no possibility that it won’t work.

    snark…perhaps the software was written by MS…

    I know that in southern Orange Co. (CA), they have regular tests of warning systems associated with the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station (including sirens in the adjacent populated areas).

    And a University couldn’t test their system?

    Some HR/IT heads need to roll on this one.

    Another Drew (a28ef4)

  3. Why is Braud’s daughter “freaking out” the morning AFTER the murders? OK, the warning system probably should have been tested during installation, but is his daughter living in a cloister or in the real world where nasty things happen once in a great while? Sorry, I forgot. Colleges in the US are not part of the real world. Do major European schools, the University of Paris or Oxford for instance, treat their students like such total adolescents? The LSU email response might have been phrased better, but there is no reason to go off the deep end at this point on what is an entirely insignificant issue. The notification system will be improved. If you’ve been quoted correctly, end of story, Mr. Braud.

    Iapetus (ea6f31)

  4. …identify and locate three young black men who were seen hurriedly leaving the vicinity…

    Tsk, tsk, identifying the suspects by the color of their skin. How non-PC. The reporter can kiss off ever getting a job at the Washington Post.

    stevesturm (d3e296)

  5. My prayers go out to the family members of the two students.
    Stevesturn…. read the comment carefully. Those comments were made by Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Sgt. Don Kelly and not written by the reporter. Cynical people like you sicken me! Stay focussed on the issue at hand and not what who has written what. NO ONE , NOT ONE person has written a note mourning the death of the students!! Just because they were Indians ??Really sad.

    dean (40ca7b)

  6. I offer my deepest condolences to the victims families.
    This is an email I just sent to LSU spokeswoman Kristine Calongne. Thought it would be prudent to post it as a comment here.

    I would like to condemn one of the earlier news releases in which the university claimed that the tragic homicides provided an “opportunity” for the university to test it’s new emergency text message system. That statement is insensitive and highly distasteful and sent a wrong message to the international student community. I just wonder if it were domestic students killed in that incident, would anyone dare to call it an ‘opportunity’?

    OutragedStudent (b625f2)

  7. dean,

    It doesn’t matter one bit to me where the victims came from. They had families who love them and their deaths are tragic. Having said that, I see no disrespect in discussing other issues raised by this story.

    DRJ (09f144)

  8. Thanks OutragedStudent! Exactly my point. rather than rally against what happened or being sympathetic to the community and the family, folks here are discussing who will become or not become a Washington Post reporter. Simply outrageous !! In the recent mall shooting, the focus has been what the shooters background was and what songs he sang two weeks ago !! The media tries to sensationalize every friking story and it sad to now see that people like DRJ too don’t see any harm in discussing other issues when the need of the hour is something totally different.
    My friends your hearts need love, your mind needs focus and your souls need cleansing. This people of this country are becoming commercial minded and heartless that they don’t know when to mourn and when to rejoice. May god bless your souls!!

    dean (40ca7b)

  9. Dean, there are a lot of things that can be discussed in relation to the story, it is not within your power to tell people what they can and cannot discuss.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  10. Babies break down and and cry when their world turns out to be different than what they had thought. Grownups analyze the problem and look how to prevent it from ever happening again. Crawl under the covers and cry yourself to sleep, dean. Peacefully and restfully knowing that you are so much more superior to us unfeeling assholes. And when you do decide to crawl out from under the covers you will find that the unfeeling assholes have made the world a safer place for crybabies like yourself.

    nk (6061ba)

  11. SPQR and Nk : Dudes: why are you getting so insecure ? All I said is that all this can be discussed later. Atleast pay the guys who died some respect and let the time for grieving be over.
    I guess until its your friends or your family you really don’t care SPQR. I don’t think I am superior to anyone, but yes I think that since these guys were not from the US, it couldn’t matter less to anyone and your comments just prove that. Yeah i might be a cry baby, but your kind think discussing about Brad’s daughter and reporters comments are the right things to do? YES I CRY FOR WASTEFUL DEATHS AND MY BRETHREN. If you want to call yourself a asshole be my guest :)

    dean (40ca7b)

  12. Kumbayah, dean.

    nk (6061ba)

  13. Yeah, I didn’t think you would have anything else to say!!!

    dean (40ca7b)

  14. I’m not insecure at all. I just don’t appreciate you thinking that you set the agenda for what is discussed. Patterico’s website is not a grief counseling center.

    And I happen to like people from India so spare me your racist innuendo, save it for blah and AJL.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  15. Nice try SPQR!!
    On the same note you DON’t tell me what I CAN WRITE.

    dean (40ca7b)

  16. Your ALL CAPS Kung Fu has defeated me.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  17. Dean, the first line of this story sets the guide for the discussion in the comments:

    “Two LSU Ph.D. students were murdered in campus housing yesterday, apparently in connection with a robbery, and the murders have caused understandable concerns about safety:”

    So, people come into the string and talk about the safety situation as they see it.

    Then you come in and complain that no one wrote a note of concern about the students who were killed.

    Here is my comment to you: You didn’t either, asshole!!!”

    Have a nice day.

    reff (99666d)

  18. On the same note you DON’t tell me what I CAN WRITE.

    dean, also on the same note, you don’t tell us how to respond to what you write.

    Paul (2ca51d)

  19. dean, aren’t you supposed to be mourning and all that? Why are you blog cruising at all? There’s got to be a chapel somewhere near you. Capital lettering at people who are not of your sensibilities, as you have noticed, does not make them want to get all warm and squishy with you on this. You must be pretty gol’ darned distracted and busy being upset 24/7 since there’s a passel of sad, unfair, and awful killing going on just about every second somewhere on this globe. Being the Santa Claus for killings has got to be the pits. I sure hope you don’t just cherry pick the primetime media ones, that be disappointing. And you put that middle finger down now, I’m just funnin’ wit youse. But c’mon, dean. The world just keeps on doing what it’s doing no matter if DRJ, nk, or SPQR feel your pain or not.

    allan (dbb261)

  20. Oh Allan, I am not cherry picking and being Santa Claus for killings. I do my mourning how i like to do it.
    I am from India and this does bother me. And poor you, why do you feel disappointed for whatever weird reason it would be? It just shows how low people would get with name calling and all. That is the pits. Don’t pity me Allan. pity the friend you speak on behalf of. Screw these guys, who worries about the reff, paul , SPQR’s and the likes of the world!

    dean (40ca7b)

  21. Dean’s right. Why don’t you take and middle finger and take it up your arse Allan! Being all righteous and all

    Mddy (40ca7b)

  22. dean, does this only bother you because you are from India?

    If you’ll look in the LAT post, you’ll see 1st comment where I linked to this story at 3am last night, in my post at the end were my prayers and thoughts to the family and friends.

    Not everyone grieves and mourns the way you do; as this is a political-type blog, it is only natural for discussions to tend to favor the issues involved if not the people.

    Verlin Martin (899dce)

  23. Hi Verlin, Not at all. It’s not the only reason why it bothers me but yes it is one of reasons why it does.
    Maybe this is not the place for me to put my thoughts. In India , people die like dogs, there is no value for life. When I came to the US, amongst other things, this was one thing that I admired the most – value for life. Today, it bothers me because I feel there was no sign of respect for these guys. The university didn’t close down, not for a day. Does that tell you something? Like someone said above, I ask you would it be the same if these guys were from California or New York ? I think there are double standards. And look at the comments from these guys. They bring nothing but shame onto themselves and their country. I don’t think that this is going to change my thoughts about the people of this great country but I definitely did not think it was this bad! Anyway, thank you for your comments.
    Time for me to get out of here! Happy blogging.

    dean (40ca7b)

  24. Dean, you really are reacting bizarrely. No one in these comments had any disrespectful reaction to the victims of the crime. The discussion was about another aspect of the event.

    Your idea that we can’t discuss those other aspects without having engaged in some form of expression of grief for the victims is just silly and does not justify your insults toward those who have commented upon this.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. dean,

    I’ve updated the post to add my condolences and I assure you there is no double standard at this website.

    DRJ (09f144)

  26. I just cut and paste this from my comments:

    Mddy | Mad@yahoo.com | IP: [x]

    Dean’s right. Why don’t you take and middle finger and take it up your arse Allan! Being all righteous and all

    Dec 15, 9:59 PM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — LSU Shootings Spark Concerns; Anger
    #

    dean | dean@yahoo.com | IP: [x]

    Oh Allan, I am not cherry picking and being Santa Claus for killings. I do my mourning how i like to do it.
    I am from India and this does bother me. And poor you, why do you feel disappointed for whatever weird reason it would be? It just shows how low people would get with name calling and all. That is the pits. Don’t pity me Allan. pity the friend you speak on behalf of. Screw these guys, who worries about the reff, paul , SPQR’s and the likes of the world!

    Dec 15, 9:54 PM — [ Edit | Delete | Unapprove | Approve | Spam ] — LSU Shootings Spark Concerns; Anger

    The IP’s are the same.

    I suppose someone else might have jumped onto Dean’s computer to agree with him.

    Patterico (faeccf)

  27. This is a strange thread.

    DRJ (09f144)

  28. It only gets weirder eh?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  29. Sorry I break my promise and write again.
    Buddy my anger was directed after reading the article,
    1. specifically “…opportunity for the university to test its new emergency text-message system”. The LSU spokeswoman made comments about the incident but nothing about the people themselves.
    2.Then Gerard Braud speaking about his daughter freaking out.
    What about those died ??
    In the virginia Tech shooting, though it was of a bigger magnitude, the school was closed although the shooter had killed himself. Here, the shooter(s) are at large but still nothing.
    I apologize about my comments and feel they were is bad taste which stemmed from the insensitive nature of the comments and fueled my anger ( wow – asshole, santa claus for killings, writing in Caps- man oh man!!) , but I should have known better. This is not an excuse for having written all that. Maybe I should mourn in private, specially now that i know how and what people think.

    dean (40ca7b)

  30. Maddy is short for Madeline and saw I was visibly upset. Hence her comment and yes they were from my comp.

    dean (40ca7b)

  31. In response to Iapetus — In a day when an armed gunman can kill 31 people on a college campus, i.e. Virginia Tech, students are more concerned it could happen to them. Virginia Tech waited 2 hours and 10 minutes to send out their first emergency notification. This was 10 minutes after the second 29 people were killed. If proper emergency notification was used at Virginia Tech, 29 families would be celebrating this holiday season, rather than morning the loss of a family member.
    Emergency notifications are suppose to tell people how to respond. VT did not do this. LSU did not do this. My daughter appropriately asked the question, “What does ‘use caution’ mean?” Should she shelter in place? Should she skip her finals and get a zero? Does she walk across campus in fear of a snipper? LSU did not have a gunman in custody — same was true at Virginia Tech. LSU did not give clear directions to its students. LSU’s systems were not tested. LSU failed. End of story.

    Gerard Braud (2b3907)

  32. Outraged student is spot on! The 3:35 e-mail crediting the tragedy with creating an opportunity to test the failed text message system is PR-BS. Just come clean and admit that you bought a system and failed to test it. You failed. If you fail to plan, plan to fail.
    What frightens me is that most universities in America are in the same boat as LSU. They have not tested their systems. They have no real crisis communications plan. They have not conducted the kinds of crisis communications drills that will keep people safe in a real crisis.
    Read more from the AP http://www.katc.com/Global/story.asp?S=7501945

    Gerard Braud (2b3907)

  33. But Gerard, how much could this system really help? They have fire alarms, etc, already. We have internet, and we can hear gunfire.

    Sure they should test their stupid little text message thing, but they should also come up with a real plan. These killers come to these campuses and malls precisely sot hey can feel powerful and watch people flee and scatter as they pick off innocents. The university just wants to flee efficiently. IS that an effective deterrent? These Universities need to have a QRF or something. And they need to offer classes at an on-campus gun-range to students who are allowed to carry firearms to class.

    Dustin (9e390b)

  34. Mr Braud, I understand your concerns, but like others posting here I wonder whether the victims of this heinous crime are being forgotten in the aftermath. Perhaps your choice of words was unintended exaggeration, or maybe you were misquoted, but I don’t understand why an adult woman should be “freaking out” the day AFTER the incident, when she was completely safe and in no danger. At that point, is there any reason to panic? Not that I can see. As for trusting authorities to give the proper advice to people during a crisis, remember that many people who perished on 9/11 were wrongly advised by the authorities to remain in their offices and told not to leave the WTC. In a crisis, each person has to assume responsibility for his or her own survival and I’m not sure there’s any “formula” that would apply in each and every case. That said, I agree with you that if there is a warning system in place, it should be designed to work properly. But, I wouldn’t get my hopes up that a university bureaucrat would ever get it right. That would take some competence, and on that point you and I seem to be in full agreement.

    Iapetus (ea6f31)

  35. Iapetus, dean, et al.,

    This thread disappoints me and I can’t remember ever feeling that way about a post before. First, everyone feels sorry for these graduate students and their families and no comment even remotely intimates otherwise.

    Second, LSU’s public statement was insensitive but bureaucracies are insensitive. The larger point is whether LSU is prepared for problems on campus and in large part that’s what this post was about. It doesn’t sound like LSU’s system is fully tested. It’s far more important that LSU be adequately prepared than sufficiently compassionate.

    Third, I think it is patently unfair to criticize a student (or her parent) for being upset or afraid in the immediate aftermath of a shooting on campus. Any person in a similar situation would be concerned and would initially fear for their safety.

    DRJ (09f144)

  36. A cynic would say that anything at LSU that is not connected to the football program is not of concern to the administration.
    Unfortunately, they have their priorities, and the real world has its’.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  37. Actually, DEAN…

    I worry about you….you complain about something others didn’t do…

    THAT YOU DIDN’T DO YOURSELF, YOU STUPID ASS!!!

    Have a nice day.

    reff (99666d)

  38. reff – you stupid ass. Read comment 5. That was the first thing I did!!
    you have nice day too!

    dean (40ca7b)

  39. Actually what I noticed was that your comment, dean, first made accusations of racism without any basis.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. Dean, I stand corrected; you did say that in your first line, and I missed it…

    BECAUSE OF ALL YOUR OTHER STUPID ASS COMMENTS.

    Have a nice day anyway!

    reff (bff229)

  41. I hope the two hardworking souls rest in peace and their deaths be a lesson to all of America to think about dealing with blacks + crime + gun control.
    What bothers me most is a conversation from one of the victims with his brother that there was regular mugging of international students by neighborhood blacks. I speak from experience where I noticed black communities always talk of their problems without ever really focusing on the problems they are causing. Its just so sad that none of the black communities understand that two very valuable lives have been lost to worthless thugs who might still kill a few more now that they are still loose. It is time that blacks justify Martin Luther King’s effort for freedom who just so happened to be influenced from another great Indian Gandhi.

    Real Indian (002db7)

  42. First, I want to say how sad I am for the families of the two students at my school that died. Baton Rouge has become an increasingly dangerous place recently, with armed robbery happening across the city more than 6 times a week in the past month. However, as for everyone who has jumped on LSU for not testing the text messaging system earlier-my major is disaster science and management and I’ve had several teachers who were also officers of the LSUPD and they have all said that the system had been tested before, but not enough students had registered for the service for them to have a good idea of how effective it would be in an emergency-it’s an optional service that students can register for completely by choice-if when initially implemented only a small number of students registered, any testing would not have given them any indication of how the system would work on a larger scale. Second, the neighborhood that borders the campus on the north side-right across the street from the Edward Gay apartments in fact, has been a known “bad neighborhood” for over 30 years, since my parents lived there as married students in the early 70s and before that. I’ve driven down that street in broad daylight and felt uneasy, and I grew up in New Orleans proper, so when I’m uneasy somewhere, that generally means other people should feel that way too. While I can’t say definitely, I imagine that that factor in combination with the fact that there were only 2 days of exams left (one of them Saturday when the campus would not typically be open) was why campus was not closed-this was a very, very unfortunate event that happened on campus, but was not viewed as a threat to the campus or student body. That taken into account, there would have been no reason to send an e-mail out earlier considering at the time of the shooting, a majority of campus would have been shut down anyway with the exception of the library and maybe the student union, which aren’t that close to the crime scene. Plus, it was clearly stated in the original e-mail that exams would continue as scheduled as of then and that students should continue to check their e-mail for updates. As a student, I felt that I had the information I needed to make decisions about whether or not to venture from my apartment or not. While I do not think the LSUPD or BRPD always handle things in the best way, I think they did what was in the best interest of both the campus and the victim’s families in this case. This was clearly not a Virginia Tech situation. Again, I am extremely saddened that something like this happened at my school and to two obviously bright people, but at the same time, I can’t find any huge faults in the way the authorities handled the situation. I have every confidence that if the shootings had been seen as a threat to the student body or the campus, further measures would have been taken.

    LSUsenior (ebf0eb)

  43. P.S. I agree with Real Indian. In my time at LSU it seems that international students always seem to end up in the campus housing that borders on these bad areas that surround the north end of the campus and I’ve never understood that. And coming from New Orleans, I too am tired of a few black people tarnishing everything that the Civil Rights movement worked so hard for. It’s just plain sickening. I don’t think that international students are specifically targeted though-I think anyone living in the Edward Gay or Nicholson apartments is at a significantly higher risk than the rest of campus housing, it’s just that for whatever reason more international students live in these facilities.

    LSUsenior (ebf0eb)


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