AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are calls for more safety in the West Campus neighborhood near the University of Texas after a stand-off with police Friday morning.
The incident happened around 2 a.m. UT police said a non-UT student allegedly pointed a gun at four UT students in the 2400 block of Pearl Street, then, the suspects ran into an apartment.
UTPD said they assisted Austin police, who say one person has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Some who live nearby say they didn’t know about any of this while it was happening.
“Walking for my 8 a.m., I was like, what’s going on? Like, I don’t know anything and I feel like I should know, being this close,” said Kaitlyn Radford, an incoming senior who lives across the street.
UTPD said although they helped APD on-scene, it’s not their jurisdiction, saying APD sent an alert using its reverse 911 system.
But Emery Scott, an out-of-town student living in Austin for the summer, also said he and his roommates didn’t receive an alert.
“We figured there was something violent or someone was on the loose there so we locked our doors and stayed in our home,” Scott said.
KXAN News ask APD how that alert system works, and why some folks nearby didn’t receive an alert. We have not yet heard back.
Austin Police tweeted about the incident around 9:45 a.m.
Joell McNew with safety advocacy group SafeHorns said even if an incident is outside of UT’s jurisdiction, they should still notify students through social media or their LiveSafe app when it’s happening and students could be affected.
“We believe when there is a threat that students should be made aware because it really just heightens that concern,” she said. “One student was saying that she was hiding in her closet. She was afraid for her life. Didn’t really understand what was going on.”
McNew said they advocated for more lighting in the West Campus neighborhood and that’s been accomplished, but more can still be done to improve safety there, including foot and bike patrols.
After a shooting in the area last year, UTPD said they were increasing patrols
They also opened a new satellite office in the neighborhood last year, in the hopes of deterring crime.
McNew said they also want more emergency call boxes in West Campus. UTPD said they currently have three in the area, at Walter Webb Hall, San Antonio Garage, and 2400 Nueces Street.
Radford said that would’ve especially helped her last year, when she was walking home one night and a man pulled a taser on her.
“That would be really nice because the guy who pulled out the taser on me was in West Campus, so that would’ve been really nice to have around and not just like freaking out and calling somebody,” she said. “So, it would make me feel a lot more safer, definitely, having those around.”
UTPD said they plan to implement more security measures soon, based on suggestions from a task force appointed by UT president Jay Hartzell. They plan to announce the first of those initiatives as early as next week.
“Areas west of campus fall within Austin Police Department’s (APD) jurisdiction. UTPD continues to be an active partner with APD and other local law enforcement agencies when addressing safety concerns, including coordinated patrols in the area.
The university anticipates implementing additional safety and security measures for our on- and off-campus community, based on recommendations from a special task force convened by President Hartzell. We plan to communicate the first of those initiatives as early as next week.
If you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress, call 9-1-1. UTPD encourages all students who call 9-1-1 to identify themselves as UT students so that additional assistance and resources can be provided to students in need.”UTPD spokesperson
Although McNew said she and some students feel that crime has been increasing in the West Campus neighborhood, APD’s crime map data indicates otherwise.
So far this year, the area has had 439 crime reports compared to 515 reports in 2021 over the same time period. There were 543 reports in 2020 and 418 in 2019.
Both UTPD and SafeHorns encourage students to sign up for the LiveSafe app to report suspicious activity as well as receive emergency alerts about incidents on campus.