An emergency text message sent to the University of Miami community Wednesday sparked confusion and criticism of what some people thought was a racist alert.
After a reported theft on campus, police were pursuing two suspects and believed one of them to be armed. Around 9:13 p.m. Wednesday, UMiami only warned their students a "black male" was on campus through an emergency text:
UMiami ENN: Gables Campus.
**DESCRIPTION** black male on campus wearing black and white tennis shoes, white shirt w/blk writing, blk shorts..
According to multiple people on Twitter, other text alerts said police were creating a perimeter, and that people should remain in a safe place. BroBible cited a screen shot and a tipster who said emergency phone calls went out as well telling students to stay inside and lock their doors, but apparently failed to mention what they were hiding from.
The UMiami ENN Twitter account also sent out an alert, but similarly failed to explain what was happening:
U-Miami ENN Alert – Gables Campus: **DESCRIPTION** with **WEAPON** by **LOCATION**. Lock yourself in a secure area. Await further info. www.
— UMiami ENN (@UMiamiENN) December 6, 2012
While the emergency emails reportedly had more information, explaining in the subject line that there was an armed gunman on campus, some students posted on the UMiami ENN Facebook page that they only received text messages
Jermaine Johnson, a member of the Hurricanes' football team, shared his reaction on Twitter:
UM sent me an email saying if you see a black male on campus causing havoc call the police. #WTH
— Jermaine Johnson (@ASAP_Maine78) December 6, 2012
The University did not respond to requests for comment from The Huffington Post, but they did issue a comment on their UMiami ENN Facebook page:
Last night, University of Miami Police responded to a laptop theft on campus. Both subjects fled and one was later apprehended in the perimeter. In an attempt to quickly notify the campus that a suspect was at large, an active police perimeter was being set up and that people should find a secure location/avoid the area, an incomplete University ENN (Emergency Notification Network) alert was initially distributed. The University regrets the error. Police are still investigating.
The Miami Hurricane, a campus newspaper, reported that the University of Miami Police Department has one suspect in custody, and another is still being pursued.
UPDATE, 4:38 p.m.: The University of Miami sent out a message to the press further apologizing for the emergency text messages:
The University of Miami Police Department issued an ENN (Emergency Notification Network) at 9:13 pm to alert the campus community to the developing situation and to make them aware of the police perimeter and ongoing search for the suspects. At 9:49 pm, an all-clear message was communicated.
The initial ENN was both incomplete and insensitive and the University of Miami offers its sincere apologies. University leadership has already launched a full investigation of the incident, the ENN and University procedures. The University will make every effort to learn from this experience and to improve its responsiveness in the future.