New audit report says UTC failed to meet safety standards in Douglas Heights shooting incident
Months after UTC faced criticism for not sending out an alert about a shooting nearby campus, a new state audit report is calling for change to ensure student safety.
The shooting happened in July at Douglas Heights Apartment complex, just a block away from campus. The incident left one person dead and two others injured but there was no alert sent out to students, which alarmed many who live on the property.
"It kind of feels like there's a big mishandling of situations on campus," UTC student Alexander Smith told Channel 3.
Now, that report from the Tennessee Comptroller's office says UTC failed to meet safety standards and requirements by not alerting students to the deadly shooting.
"I mostly heard it through rumor. There wasn't really a whole alert," Smith explained.
Smith, a senior at UTC, told Channel 3 he lived nearby Douglas Heights when the July 14th shooting happened.
He recalled being concerned when he didn't receive a UTC alert.
"I'd rather be notified of something that isn't as big of a deal as it turns out to be than to not know about it."
In July, we asked UTC officials why they chose not to send an alert about the incident. A spokesperson told Channel 3 they didn't think it was necessary because it was summer and students were not on campus.
Alerts are sent on a case-by-case basis and decided on by a committee of police, university administrators and campus leaders.
The audit report states the failure to notify students and staff in this situation increased safety risks because the suspects were not in custody at the time.
The two were arrested later that week.
A spokesperson with the university sent the following statement to Channel 3 in response to the report Wednesday saying quote:
"At the time this incident occurred, the UTC police administration did not see this as a continuing threat that needed a Clery response. However, with the audit recommendations, we think it is good to revisit properties in close proximity to the university."
Smith told Channel 3 he agrees.
"I think there needs to be a set of strict policies that are followed, especially like within a one mile radius of campus," he added.
Under the Clery Act, institutions are required to immediately notify the campus community once they've confirmed a dangerous situation or significant emergency.
None of the people involved in that shooting were students, but a spokesperson says the university is continuing to assess policies concerning safety procedures for incidents on and near campus.