UCFPD closes investigation into rumored gunwoman
UCF Police received reports of a gunwoman inside the campus library Tuesday, but after searching the building found no threat. Video by Caroline Glenn, Central Florida Future. Photos by Jillian James & Nicholas Graves
The UCF Police Department announced today their investigation into reports of a potential gunwoman inside the UCF library have been closed.
“We are unable to clearly determine whether there was a firearm on campus, and therefore, we are inactivating our investigation," said UCF Police Chief Richard Beary in a press release.
The incident, which occurred on April 26, involved social media posts that described an armed female praying at the John C. Hitt Library on UCF's main campus. Based on the social media posts, UCFPD evacuated and searched the building but was unable to find a suspect.
"I am proud of students who had the courage to report what they considered at the time to be suspicious activity ... " Beary later said in an email to the campus.
Students reported hearing a gunshot, which was later determined to be an accidental discharge from a UCFPD officer leaving the scene, for which the office accepted full responsibility.
The incident has drawn controversy since the first text alert was sent out. The alert said there was a "possible Middle Eastern gun man/woman in UCF Main Campus Library. Avoid the area!"
Tahoora Ateeq, the president of the Pakistani Student Association at UCF, said the term "Middle Eastern" describes multiple ethnic groups and that it would have been better for the alert to describe the potential shooter's clothing, height or gender.
"With this term categorizing such a broad group of people, its use is subjective and not at all conducive to identifying a suspect in such an emergency," Ateeq said. "Rather, it could lead to racial profiling and put a large number of students in danger."
On April 27, Beary addressed the use of the term "Middle Eastern" and said that time constraints and the ability to only use 180 characters left UCFPD with little choice when it came to describing the incident. However, UCFPD has taken note of the reaction their wording caused.
“We’ve had several discussions internally and with our stakeholders about our actions that day, and we will use that feedback to enhance future responses," Beary said.
UCFPD is unable to provide video footage from every officer as not all the officers who responded to the call were wearing body cameras. The press release states that some officers had been attended off-campus training sessions and as such were not in their typical uniforms which include body cameras.
According to the press release, the case could be reopened if additional information becomes available.
Jean Racine is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org