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UTEP Practices Response with Mock Shooter, Hostage Taker

By Staff Report
Published On: Aug 30 2012 03:14:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Feb 10 2014 07:23:13 PM CST

The day after the shootings near the Texas A&M campus

EL PASO, Texas -

UTEP Police and Administrators face a very realistic scenario: guns, blood and  hostages.

It was only a test, but was it too soon?

"I would hate to think that if we delayed it by a week or a month and we didn't practice, we didn't exercise, and something did happened -- I couldn't live with myself," UTEP Police Chief Cliff Walsh said.

On Tuesday, UTEP conducted what administrators call an Active Shooter Emergency Exercise on campus.

University officials said it is only an exercise. The exercise was scheduled months before the active shooter incident at Texas A&M University on Monday.

“It is important that everyone be prepared in the event of an emergency on the UTEP campus,” said UTEP Executive Vice President Richard Adauto. “Exercises like this allow us to maintain and strengthen our emergency reaction, as well as identify and rectify our weaknesses so as to minimize any confusion which could lead to injury and/or fear.”

Police Chief Walsh said the area most in need of improvement they learned after the exercise is communication among agencies. In this instance, the UTEP Police Department worked with El Paso Police and El Paso Fire officials.

Students on campus said they were glad to see UTEP law enforcement making efforts so it is better prepared should this event ever happen in reality.

An active shooter incident has happened at a UT college campus in recent years.

On the morning of September 28, 2010, a sophomore mathematics student, Colton J. Tooley, boarded a city bus headed for The University of Texas at Austin campus. He wore a white hooded sweatshirt over a black business suit and tie.

He carried a backpack with something that looked like rolled up white butcher paper protruding from it. At 8:08 a.m., he exited the bus one block southwest of the campus. He walked east and then turned north toward 21st street.

On his way, he removed an AK-47 from within the rolled up paper in his backpack, took off his sweatshirt, rolled a black ski mask on top of his head, and discarded his backpack and contents into a trash dumpster.

Once he was on 21st street, which leads to one of the busiest intersections on campus, he started firing. He fired a total of 11 shots at three different locations.

He fired some shots in the ground, some at a building wall and others in the air, but he did not fire at any person he encountered on the way to his destination.

As he passed the 21st Street information kiosk, Tooley began to jog toward the front of the Perry-Castañeda Library (PCL). Before he entered the library, he pulled the ski-mask down over his face.

He sped up again and started to run, but not before waving to a guard sitting at the front desk. Colton J. Tooley passed a computer lab with students on his right, and proceeded to the elevator hall where he took the stairwell up to the sixth floor.

He sat down at a table with cubicle partitions, and fired his last shot, the 12th round, killing himself.

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