By Abby Hamblin and Hana Eades
The statewide manhunt for an active shooter touched the PLNU community briefly on Thursday when the Department of Public Safety announced the lockdown of the Liberty Station Conference Center where some PLNU classes are held.
“There is an active shooter situation unfolding in Liberty Station. Suspect is barricaded in hotel in that vicinity and police are on scene. All students and employees should avoid this location until further notice. LSCC has been locked down,” wrote Director of Public Safety Mark Galbraith in a campus-wide text message and email alert sent at 10:41 a.m.
The Liberty Station Conference Center houses the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, an office for Public Safety as well as offices for a few other members of PLNU staff and faculty. There are also classrooms for nursing and business classes. The center includes rentable space for conferences and events, such as the Patriot Group Inc.’s job fair event on Thursday.
The event’s employing participants included Riverside County and San Diego County Sheriff’s Departments and the San Diego Police Departments, along with the Department of Navy and Marine Corps Personnel Office. The combination of these armed officers and the PLNU Department of Public Safety presence already there for their typical day shifts meant many capable law enforcement officials were present.
At 11:17 Thursday morning, Public Safety released another notification clarifying its previous message; the sighting of a suspected shooter earlier in the day turned out to be false, as well as the report that the suspect had been barricaded in a Liberty Station Hotel.
“SDPD is on-site at LSCC and will remain in the location through the duration of this incident. LSCC is no longer on lock-down status based on the latest intelligence from SDPD,” Galbraith wrote.
Galbraith also announced that shuttle service to Liberty Station would be canceled for the day.
Randy Ataide, Executive Director of the Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, was at the LSCC when the shooter situation began to unfold.
“There was never any huge alarm, we were all just being very prudent,” Ataide said.
Ataide said there were about eight other PLNU staff and faculty members as well as one student worker present at the time of the lockdown. Ataide said he was in constant contact with SDPD, Public Safety, and the deans of both the business and nursing schools throughout the situation.
“He’s very capable,” said Ivan Filby, Dean of the Fermainian School of Business, about Ataide. “He was in the navy. He’s level-headed. He doesn’t flap easily.”
Ataide said the lockdown lasted less than five minutes. The Department of Public Safety held about ten people in the foyer of the building while waiting for more information from SDPD. Ataide also said any time there are students at the LSCC, there are Public Safety officers on duty and there is also a private security group that patrols the area.
“We were all meeting together in constant conversation, watching the helicopters, emails, and news,” Ataide said.
Filby said he was pleased with the way the PLNU presence at the LSCC handled the situation.
“I thought they followed the procedures well,” Filby said. “The information was appropriate and not overly done.”
DPS sent a final notification at 3:41 p.m., alerting the campus that the latest intelligence indicated that the suspect was not longer in the San Diego area. The notification also said that LSCC classes would not affected for Friday. Additional Public Safety officers were deployed to screen vehicles entering campus.