By: Cory Berlekamp
On Saturday, March 16, a false alarm for an active shooter situation rang out on University of Michigan’s campus. This interrupted a vigil for those who were slain a day before in New Zealand’s mosque shootings that was being held on campus at Mason Hall.
M Live reported that U of M police believe it was caused by a student organization popping balloons nearby but for the people involved including a University of Findlay sophomore participating in the vigil, it was a terrifying experience.
According to Megan Berg, a UF psychology major, the police interrupted the vigil about 20 minutes in waving their arms and yelling run. In front of her was a mother of three, she grabbed one of the children and ran. After the initial confusion, Berg returned the child and then tried to figure out what was going on.
“I assume a shooter,” said Berg but was not sure until she walked back to the other people standing at the library. Her suspicions were confirmed after the U of M students received text alerts on their phones.
“We were all standing there, not knowing what is happening, then the U of M students get an alert that is the run, hide, fight protocol ‘Active shooter in Mason Hall’.”
The University of Findlay follows the same protocol in an active shooter situation. In an article on UF’s campus policy of an active shooter, UF Chief of Police and Director of Security William Spraw explained what the protocol was.
“We have been using what is called run, hide, fight,” said Spraw. “Basically it’s only engage the individual if you have to. Run or barricade yourself in, or if they are right there, fight for your life.”
According to Berg, “like a movie” she looked up and was standing by the Mason Hall sign, she then hid in a closet with three Muslim girls.
“Everyone’s crying, they are praying and I’m calling my mom and I’m like ‘Mom, I am in an active shooter situation. I love you, I’m sorry.’,” said Berg. “That’s a lot to tell your mother.”
After leaving the closet, Berg found herself hiding in a basement stairwell when one of the speakers of the vigil called down to her to come back up where they were going to center of the building. According to Berg, it was an hour and a half until they found out that it was a false alarm.
“That was a long time to think you might die,” said Berg.
According to Berg, she had never been on Michigan’s campus before but her previous training from Mason High School in Mason, MI prepared her for an active shooter situation.
“Had I known the situation better, I think I would have been more prepared to hide and respond better,” Berg said. “All things considered, I think I did a really good job at handling it because they prep us so well for this in school which is depressing that they have to.”
Looking back on the situation Berg thought of the weapon she thought she was running from.
“Oh I assumed semi-automatic rifle because if you are going to mass shoot people that’s the quickest way to get it done,” said Berg. “If someone were to ask me what specific gun, I would say probably an AR-15.”
According to snopes.com, the AR-15 was the rifle used in the movie theater in Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary, San Bernardino, First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, and Parkland High School in Florida. According to CNN, New Zealand has now banned all military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles.