Stabbing at FIU Elicits Weak Warning Response, Insufficient Security

05/29/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jonathan Ruiz HuffPost Citizen Reporting

MIAMI, FLORIDA -- Last Thursday night, a Florida International University student died outside the recreation center after a pick up basketball game. As Kendall Berry, a star running back for the school's football team, exited the facility, his life ended as he fell victim to a waiting assassin. A crowd gathered around the altercation and numerous witnesses said they witnessed the perpetrator stabbing the victim with a pair of scissors.

One witness, Jordan Nelson, a student at the university who was heading to the gym for his daily workout, found the response time too slow. "[It was] not quick enough, the first responders were unarmed security guards."

As the FIU community mourns, many students are expressing their concern for the lack of communication following the attack. News had spread that the attacker was at large and it was unknown whether or not the attacker was on campus. Many students heard the news via fellow students' updated Facebook statuses and text messages from friends.

Maydel Santana-Bravo, the director of the Office of Media Relations, commenting on this lack of communication from the university said, "Text alerts were immediately sent out and about two to three emails were sent out, and the homepage was updated incrementally."

As of 11 p.m. Thursday evening, approximately two hours after the attack, there were no updates about the situation on the FIU homepage. When questioning students who said they did sign up for text alerts they did confirm that they did receive alerts, the first being around 9:30 p.m.

Santana-Bravo indicated that the emails went out simultaneously with the text alert, but several students reported not receiving the email. FIU student Mario Brunell logged on to his email and saw one notification about the incident from the university housing office at 1:29 p.m. Friday afternoon, indicating police believed there was no immediate threat and offering counseling sessions.

The Office of Emergency Management would not release the transcripts of the text alerts or the email notifications indicating sensitive information. When further questioning the assistant director of the Office of Emergency Management Dorothy L. Miller on whether the Office of Emergency Management webpage was updated about the events that took place Thursday night, she admitted it was not.

Miller went on record, however, stating that the FIU Facebook page was updated. There was indeed a link to an article posted approximately three hours after the initial incident indicating a stabbing occurred but there was no immediate threat.

Assistant Director Miller indicated that a loud speaker message was sent out to alert the student about the stabbing. When asking Mario Brunelli about whether he heard the message from his first floor dorm, he said he didn't.

In an phone interview with John Suggs of the Department of Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety about the loud speakers, he said they "definitely need improvements."