UPDATED: 5:39 p.m. EST — A prayer vigil was underway on the campus of Grambling State University late Wednesday afternoon just hours after the fatal early morning campus shooting that killed two people, including one student.
A few hours earlier, Grambling President Richard J. Gallot, Jr., wrote to the “Grambling Family” to confirm the deaths of student Earl Andrews and his friend, Monquiarious Caldwell.
Gallot’s letter, which was posted to the school’s social media channels, stood in stark contrast to the lack of communication from officials in the hours following the shooting. When the school did finally did break its silence, it was in the form of a terse, two-sentence statement posted to its Facebook and Twitter feeds that never actually acknowledged a shooting had taken place. Instead, it said that campus buildings were operating on a regular schedule and students were expected to attend classes.
However, those posts have since been deleted, a move that may be attributed to outraged parents who said they expected to be provided with updates instead of having to wait more than seven hours for it.
Gallot’s latter was posted to social media just about 17 and a half hours after the shooting took place.
As of late afternoon, the suspected gunman, who police did not immediately identify publicly, was still at large.
There was outrage and questions over Grambling State University’s response to the fatal shootings of two men, including one student, early Wednesday morning. The Louisiana school’s social media channels were void of any reference to the two men killed on campus until about seven hours after the midnight shootings took place.
Even still, as the gunman remained at large, it was the tone of the school’s lone communication to the public that upset some social media users, many of whom were concerned parents of students simply looking for more information.
“Seriously this is all you can say! “ wrote one user in response to Grambling’s Facebook status update that only said it was business as usual on campus. “GSU please address this situation!” another implored in her comment.
Neither the Facebook post nor Grambling’s tweet from its official Twitter account made any mention of the shooting. As of late morning, there was also no mention of the shooting on the homepage of Grambling’s website, which is typically a place where schools post messages to the public about security issues.
Grambling did send out phone alerts to students, faculty and staff, but no email was sent, a school spokesperson told NewsOne. The school did not notify the surrounding community either.
Grambling State Director of Media Relations and Communications Will Sutton did provide the names of the victims to local media outlet KNOE, but the school did not immediately issue a press release.
A message from NewsOne seeking comment from Sutton about the school’s communication protocol in the face of violent threats was not immediately returned.
Security at Historically Black Colleges and Universities have come under heavy scrutiny lately. The shooting at Grambling was the latest in a string of recent instances of gun violence on campus occurring around homecoming festivities.
When an active shooter was reported on the campus of Howard University earlier this month, for example, the school and its police department immediately flooded its social media feeds with alerts in addition to notifying students through a number of channels and issuing media alerts.