Sunday, March 30, 2014

President Responds to Campus Assaults

Dear Campus Community:

I've just met this morning with our Campus Safety department, residence halls and Student Life staff, and our AUSA president regarding the crimes committed on our campus last night.

You've received some details already, perhaps through text or emails or, I hope, both.

However, I wanted to review what we know now, and how and when that information was shared with campus:

Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police officers as well as other law enforcement agencies were called to the campus of Andrews University shortly after 11 p.m., Saturday, March 29, after reports were made on a series of assaults and robberies.

Officers learned through an initial investigation that three different individuals were robbed at three different locations on campus (Meier Hall, outside Nethery Hall and outside Garland Apartments). Two of these individuals were current students, and the third was not a student.

Later investigation showed the three thieves attempted to take wallets, cash and ID from the victims. Two of the victims had facial injuries as a result of these assaults, and were treated on the scene.

These incidents took place between 10:57 p.m. and 11:20 p.m. The victims have reported the three suspects had a hand gun and a knife. At this point it has been confirmed that the gun used was a plastic pellet gun.

Two of the suspects were last seen running toward the woods from the Garland Apartments area.

Officers are still searching for the suspects, and police are reviewing video from different campus cameras in an attempt to identify the suspects.

Earlier today we sent a link to an image of the suspects. If you have any information about these suspects or last evening's crimes, please contact the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Police at 269-471-2813 or Campus Safety at 269-471-3321.

Initial descriptions suggest that the first suspect is described as a short black male with dreadlocks and glasses wearing a gray or light blue hoodie, the second is a white male and the third is an unknown male wearing a white cloth over his mouth. One of the victims also reported that the suspect/s were wearing white tennis shoes.

As we have talked, we understand that accurate and proactive information is essential at moments like these. Several of you have asked questions about how quickly information was shared on campus, especially as residence halls were on a lockdown during this intense time of investigation.

While much of the information and details were still emerging over the first moments and hours, it's our responsibility to let you know immediately that a campus lockdown has occurred, and to also let you know when it's been lifted. Often, that's been done with the RAVE alert system and email; last evening 2,839 text messages and 4,613 emails were sent shortly before 1 a.m.

Last night, we did not share that information as quickly as we should have once the residence hall lockdown began, even as we were actively working with the victims and the investigation was unfolding.

That should not have been the case. I want you to know that we are committed to understanding and sharing information immediately at times like these, and to keep you updated on this particular situation.

This note is part of that commitment to keep you informed, and we will continue to share updates as they develop.

If you are not signed up to the AU Alert system, please do so here.

Niels-Erik Andreasen
President

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Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104