Friday, Feb. 10, three bodies were found on the 4000 block of north Whitehouse St., which is located near the vicinity of Northtown Mall. Police believed it to be a homicide and searched the north Spokane area that night for the suspect, Dustin Gilman. Meanwhile, Whitworth students started their weekend as usual. Unknown to them, there was a man-hunt being conducted in the area surrounding campus.
Many students noticed helicopters searching around North Spokane, but had to seek out information on their own. Campus security did not inform students of the potential danger.
This board thinks security should have communicated the circumstances to the student body, either through an email or through the emergency response system already in place.
With that in mind, this board also recognizes the importance of wanting to keep the campus calm, but we also would like to reiterate the severity of the crime within the proximity of the school.
It was later discovered that the man being searched for was a three-time convicted felon. However, security did not deem it necessary to warn students against potential danger.
Some students milled around outside, which could have potentially been harmful, due to a lack of any communication from campus security.
According to a police response to the murders, Gilman posed a “grave risk to the public and any officer who encountered him.”
Although that was unknown at the time of the search, Whitworth security deemed any campus-wide notification to be unmerited.
“Police notified us of the incident and the suspect vehicle information, but again had no information to indicate that he was headed towards Whitworth,” Security Supervisor Mark McFall said. “Our officers patrolled the campus thoroughly in search of the suspect vehicle, but with negative results.”
Again, this board would like to assert that, regardless, knowing the area around campus was being searched for a triple-homicide suspect, the Whitworth student body should have been warned.
The Spokane police notified Whitworth security of the incident, and although no threat was believed to be posed to students, why wouldn’t security at least send a message ensuring that campus was safe despite the helicopter and police cars surrounding Whitworth?
Many students, some members of this board included, said they felt uneasy and unsafe because of the lack of communication from security. Their unsettled feeling could have easily been avoided had security sent the student body a quick message.
In our opinion, the incident should have been evaluated more effectively since there could have been potential danger if the gunman had been on Whitworth’s campus. Although security thoroughly searched campus, students should have been warned to be cautious.
The Wednesday following the incident, Whitworth students were notified of an emergency notification test via email. We hope this means security will be prepared to better inform students, with the tools in place, if this type of incident should occur again.
This board urges Whitworth University to take cautious measures against potentially dangerous situations, as we would rather err on the side of caution.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, which is made up of five editors.