OHIO VALLEY — The violent attacks at The Ohio State University on Monday hit close to home in the Ohio Valley.
Tracy Burnette, a South Gallia Middle School science teacher, and mother of OSU student and South Gallia graduate Kirstin Burnette, learned about the attack as she was in her home exercising the morning of the incident. She said her husband Chris came down the stairs about 10 a.m. and informed her of an “active shooter” event through Buckeye Alerts, an alert tool used by OSU’s department of public safety.
“It takes a minute to register because we had never heard anything like that happening at Ohio State,” said Tracy. “Kirstin has said she’s always felt extremely safe there. She’s been up there for almost a semester and she loves it and never felt uncomfortable. It made me a bit nervous and you get a bit sick to your stomach. We had contact with. Her dad texted her right after we got the alert.”
Tracy said her daughter was out of harm’s way. She said the family and Kirstin texted back and forth the whole time. Her grandparents were already on the way to visit her that weekend so Kirstin was soon reunited with family.
Tracy said she was “really thankful to campus police” for their quick response as well as God for keeping students safe. Tracy commented she was frustrated at the confusion of the event because she felt at times the location of the attack was not well-relayed.
Scott Borden, University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College campus police chief, says confusion is a tactic potential shooters or mass public attackers rely on. He said he makes several trips to speak with civic organizations or students on campus a year and he leaves them with a common theme. Take 10 or 15 seconds to assess one’s surroundings and how they may potentially be used to escape or defend oneself.
“I mean did you ever think that you might be attacked in a church or a movie theater?” said Borden. “Things like that are happening these days and shooters (or attackers) count on that confusion.”
Borden said mass attacks happen quickly and many of the shootings commonly associated with such attacks end within a three-minute time span. Campus police and faculty are trained to react in such situations but Borden says the best defense is for an individual is to be aware of their surroundings. Run when you can, hide if you can’t, and fight as a last resort.
Meigs County resident Jeremy Dutton is a student at OSU and was in his dorm room at the time the alert was sent out.
“I was about to leave for class when I got the alert for the active shooter, so I was already safely in my dorm,” said Dutton in a text message to the Sentinel. “Me and the couple of roommates that were still in the dorm as well locked our door and just paid attention for any new alerts or news. Definitely a scary experience.”
Dutton said that thankfully he does not live near where the incident occurred.
Had the incident occurred any later Dutton stated he would have been outside walking to class, which would have had him walking toward where the incident took place.
The attack didn’t just shake those on campus but across Columbus. Michelle Donovan is the former director of the Meigs County Chamber of Commerce. Donovan left that position to take a job with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce six years ago and works in managing member benefits. Her office is off of High Street near the Ohio Statehouse. Donovan said though her office is south of campus, she opted to spend her lunch inside the building until the situation was under control. Despite this traumatic incident going on in another part of the city, Donovan said by noon in Columbus, people near her office were going on with life as usual in terms of traffic flow and those walking on the sidewalk – the only thing that was out of place was a news helicopter that kept hovering near her location.
Donovan, who also owns a home in Alfred in Meigs County, was one of many local people who checked in on social media to let those “back home” who were concerned, know they were fine.
“Years ago, nobody had this issue,” Donovan said. “It’s sad because it (the violence) shows a lack of integrity in the world. If I had children, I’d be afraid to even send them to college.”