St. Joseph police were held in an 11 hour stand-off with an armed gunman less than three miles from Missouri Western’s main campus on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
At 8:30 a.m. police were called to the Motel 6 located at 4021 Frederick Ave. with reports of a man barricading himself in the motel and holding an injured female hostage.
Several surrounding businesses shut down during the stand-off including approximately six miles of Interstate 29.
In an interview with the St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph Chief of Police Chris Connally expressed his reasoning for the shut down and his concern for the safety of St. Joseph residents.
“First and foremost is the safety of our citizens. And we’re not going to hesitate to shut down whatever we have to, to make sure there are no further injuries,” Connally said.
Although the situation did not cause Western to be put on lockdown, at 10:06 a.m. students received an email from Kent Heier, Western’s director of Public Relations, informing students that there had been a police incident that would cause an obstruction to the flow of traffic.
“Interstate 29 and Fredrick Ave. is a major intersection that carries a lot of traffic that is headed towards Missouri Western, so we thought it was important to let people know that there was a police incident going on and that the police were asking folks to stay away, and we wanted to pass that information on to our campus community,” Heier said.
Heier said that sending the email was what Western safety officials believed was the best response to the situation.
“Chief Meyer and I had spoken a couple times throughout the morning about the event and that is what we felt was appropriate to send [to students],” Heier said. “It is important to us that folks feel safe on campus, and we do believe that faculty and students feel safe here and we want to communicate when there is potential disruptions.”
Although administration did not feel the shooter posed any possible threat to campus, students felt differently. Senior Eric Toliver felt the university should have done more to make students more informed of the incident.
“I feel like with the situation being so close to campus, they should have acted more quickly and I feel like they brushed the situation off. It makes me feel like if something like this were to happen again that they would be unprepared,” Toliver said.
Toliver felt that the university should’ve taken stronger, more direct action.
“With the incident being so close to campus, they should have acted; either by shutting down campus for a while or whatever, but they need to do something more than sending an email,” Toliver said. “A lot of students don’t check their email and they didn’t know about it.”