March 22, 2019 6:41 pm
Updated: March 25, 2019 12:39 pm

Brock U students feel staff were not prepared during violent incident near residences

WATCH ABOVE: Students say the school didn't do enough to inform them and staff about what to do as police investigated a violent crime on campus. The school says an erroneous tweet created unnecessary panic. Mark Carcasole reports.

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Students were back in classrooms at Brock University on Friday, less than 24 hours after three men in their 20s were injured in what Niagara police believe was a targeted incident.

At the height of Thursday night’s episode, many students said they were in the dark on what was happening and concerned about safety as social media posts were their only source of information.

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READ MORE: 3 students injured, 2 stabbed, at Brock University’s Village residence

“I was calling my friends, being like…if you’re in the library, are you safe?  Do you know what’s going on?” fourth-year student Victoria McDonald told Global News. “They thought I was joking because everything around them carried on like nothing was happening.”

McDonald said she became aware of the potential danger when a custodian walked into her three-hour evening class just before 8:00 p.m. and told students they were going into lockdown.

“Everyone’s calling their loved ones ’cause they’re not sure if this is going to be their last call to say goodbye.”

Many students on campus at the time used social media to share their frustration with the school’s lack of emergency procedures, which appeared non-existent.

Brock University’s first communication with students came in a tweet of their own approximately 40 minutes after police arrived on scene. The message said nothing about what was happening, only that they were “working with Niagara Region Police” in an investigation.

WATCH BELOW: 3 injured at Brock University’s Village residence

Brock does offer a safety app for mobile phones, which advertises that it “provides students, faculty and staff with added safety on the Brock University campus. ” It was the target of one student’s ire, who questioned the program in an e-mail to President Gervan Fearon asking: “What’s the point of the Brock Safety app?”

In a statement to Global News, the university’s executive director of marketing and communications, Kevin Cavanagh, blamed much of the “public anxiety” on a speculative tweet about an “active shooter” and “people being shot.”

“The information was false. This reckless and irresponsible Tweet quickly coursed through social media, erupting in rumour and speculation, and contributing to widespread panic.”

READ MORE: Toronto high school put on lockdown after 2 students stabbed outside, school board says

Cavanagh went on to say that university officials will reconstruct how the incident was handled by staff and how “difficult situations can be better managed in terms of campus and public safety.”

Meanwhile, Niagara Regional Police say they are still searching for two suspects seen leaving the campus in a car. As of Friday, no one was arrested in connection with the stabbings.

— With files from Mark Carcasole

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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