MTSU Shooting Tests School's Emergency Protocol - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

MTSU Shooting Tests School's Emergency Protocol

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by Heather Graf

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Monday's shooting on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University served as a true test of the school's emergency protocol.

MTSU Police Chief Buddy Peaster said the peaceful ending is a result of months of planning, training, and collaboration among local law enforcement agencies.  He also said there is still room to improve.

"Anytime you go through a situation like this, there's always someone that says 'I have an idea, we can do this better, maybe we can communicate a little better'", he said.

One area he'd like to work on is the school's website, which became overloaded for a brief period, as thousands of people on and off campus tried to get more information about the shooting and search for a suspect.

School officials said the voicemail, text, and email alerts served as the most effective means of communication, going out to more than 50,000 people in just minutes.

"I actually think they did a really good job. Everybody felt safe, no one felt like they were in danger," said MTSU Junior Blair Vick.

Those students who witnessed the shooting said police arrived on scene almost instantly.

"It was maybe a minute and a half, and I saw a patrol car come through," said MTSU Junior Taylor Corum.

Even the shooting victim, 20-year-old Austin Morrow, was aware of the quick response by law enforcement.

Morrow told NewsChannel 5 Monday night by phone that the bullet grazed his thumb after it bounced off the ground.  He said he wasn't in a lot of pain, and decided to chase after the alleged shooter because he didn't want him to get away.  He said he felt comfortable doing so, because he knew police were right behind him.

Chief Peaster credits Morrow with helping officers track down suspect, Justin Macklin, because Morrow saw him enter the Business Aerospace Building and pointed police in that direction.

"Officers went through the entire Business Aerospace Building, checking all rooms and areas. They were able to get all of the people who were in that building out safely," said Peaster.

Police say Macklin is a current MTSU student. Morrow is a former student, but is not currently enrolled in classes.  Investigators said the two knew each other previously, ran into each other on campus, and then got into an argument that quickly turned violent.

Morrow also toldNews Channel 5 he feels blessed to be alive.  He said he and Macklin had met before because they are both from Memphis, but didn't know each other well.  As for the reason behind their disagreement, Morrow said their two groups of friends just don't get along.

Investigators expect to charge Macklin with aggravated assault and possession of marijuana.  They said he ditched his shirt, his weapon, and two bags of marijuana in the Business and Aerospace Building, shortly before his arrest.


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