Rebecca Dickson, Reporter
On April 6, a 16-year-old Pierce College Puyallup student cut a 28-year-old student in the hand with a pocket knife during an attempted carjacking in the B parking lot on campus. This follows a string of car thefts on Pierce campuses.
The incident, which occurred around 4 p.m., started when the former student ran up to the 28-year-old female’s vehicle, demanding she get out of it. When she refused, she blocked the knife the 16-year-old held with her hand and received minor injuries.
“A student was driving out of our parking lot when a former, distraught student ran toward her and demanded her vehicle,” Brian Benedetti, director of marketing and communication, said in a staff email. “While trying to defend herself, he cut her hand with a knife. She got out of her car, and after the former student unsuccessfully tried to take the vehicle, he ran away.”
At this point, the suspect ran into the woods near campus after the incident near the Health Education Center. At this point, Campus Safety officers were notified and shortly after 3-4 police cars and undercover cars were found in the B lot.
When the Puyallup Police Department arrived on the scene, they requested a helicopter from King County and dispatched a K-9 unit to find the suspect. The suspect was found hiding under a log in the wooded areas near campus.
According to student text messages, students received notification of a lockdown a few minutes before the lockdown was over. While automatic doors were locked, some students claim that the College Center’s non-automatic doors were unlocked.
“I was scared, because we (had) stabbers running around freely, and it was terrifying,” student Khoa Nguyen said. “I don’t think (the security cameras) cover enough (of the grounds).”
According to Benedetti, there were security cameras in those parking lots.
“There are some security cameras in our parking lots already,” Benedetti said. “We actually caught the perpetrator on camera, which we submitted to police. I’m told that student government is meeting with the safety and facilities council with an initiative to ask for more cameras. We have been assessing the situation among ourselves and others, doing an after action review and developing an improvement plan.”
As of 5:56 p.m. that evening, Benedetti said in an email that the situation was under control and that evening classes would be held.
According to the internal email, Benedetti said the teenager would be booked into Remann Hall, as he is accused of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault.
“The safety and well-being of our students and employees are our first priority and we are all extremely concerned when something like this happens,” Benedetti said. “We are still gathering information from the police department and debriefing about our own internal processes.”
Regardless, students are concerned about their own safety if a situation like this happened again.
“I mean, if the (time it takes to notify the campus) is close to an hour and a half, than (responses) need to happen more quickly,” Jaden Boatmen said.
While Pierce does have guides on their website on how to handle emergencies, there are no specific means for dealing with stabbings. However, there are procedures for dealing with active shooters and “crisis intervention” programs.
“If a weapon is involved, or if the behavior can potentially escalate to violence, or if it is deemed to be a life-threatening situation, call 9-911 immediately, and then contact Campus Safety,” the college website states. “If the person’s behavior you observe is concerning to you, but does not pose an immediate threat to themselves or others, notify Campus Safety and/or submit an anonymous report via online reporting or contact one of the resources listed (on the website)”.
Still, some students are concerned that this isn’t enough.
“(I would advise students to) go to the safest place you can think of,” Nguyen said. “We need more security people.”
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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