Campus, News

Las Vegas gunman set sights on Charles River Campus before attack

The gunman responsible for the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock, was found to have researched multiple locations in Boston, including some on the Boston University campus, months prior to his attack.

A report released Thursday by Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo found that Paddock made Google Maps searches for various locations in the Fenway area, including the Questrom School of Business and the Blandford Street MBTA station.

The search results, along with hundreds of images of child pornography, were found after investigators searched through four laptops and three cell phones found in Paddock’s hotel rooms.

Louis Beers, a junior in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said hearing about Paddock’s search history was shocking.

“That’s strange to me because it seems like you’re removed from it because he’s on the other side of the country, and it’s weird that he searched something so close to us,” Beers said. “I feel very safe on campus. We have campus police, and I’ve never felt unsafe walking on campus. I feel they do a good job of that here.”

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said although Paddock had researched locations in Boston, the now dead shooter never visited the city.

“There was never any threat, according to law enforcement, here in Boston,” Riley said.

Riley added that in case of a potential attack, BU has procedures in place to protect students.

“I do want … to assure our students that Boston University emergency preparedness with BU Police and other area agencies trains for responding to a wide range of emergency situations,” Riley said, “from natural disasters to criminal conduct to other situations that may present danger to the campus community.”

Riley said BU is located in a particularly safe part of Boston.

“There are quite a lot of professionally trained eyes in and around Boston University’s campus,” Riley said. “We’re very fortunate in that regard and we have a professional law enforcement agency, the Boston University Police Department, where people are trained and accredited at the highest level.”

Brittany Battista, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she thinks one way to provide a greater sense of security on campus is to station police around BU’s campus at night.

“I never see the police or the BUPD walking and patrolling or doing anything like that,” Battista said. “I only see the cars or I get the texts. It would be nice to see them on the street late at night or something.”

In case of a threat on campus, the Boston Regional Intelligence Center would disseminate information to a senior staff member at the BU Police Department, who would then share information with fellow officers and the BU community, Riley said.

“We communicate with the community on anything we want them to be aware of,” Riley said. “We also have the BU Alert, which is designed to send a message to students or to members of the university community, staff and faculty, and let them know of a particular issue that’s occurring and is either an imminent or ongoing threat.”

BUPD Chief Kelly Nee said the BUPD has a strong relationship with the Boston Police Department, especially since Nee used to work for the department’s intelligence unit.

“Had there been any concern of a direct threat I have no doubt whatsoever that they would have called us,” Nee said. “The information and intelligence sharing is really, really top notch. There’s no issues with sharing information and sharing concerns, doing joint investigations. And we have the exact same relationship with the local FBI.”

Nee said information sharing is vital to preventing potential threats on campus.

“We count on people to let us know if somebody is in distress and needs some [help] or if people are concerned about some [other people’s] behavior and things that they’re saying,” Nee said.

Divya Advani, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she felt unsettled when she first heard that Paddock had taken interest in BU’s campus.

“I’m really surprised and kind of just taken back by it, just because it sounds scary,” Advani said. “It could have been here right near me, instead of Vegas, if he were to choose [to execute his attack here].”

Advani added that though the thought of an attack on campus is scary, she thinks BU has effective procedures to keep students safe.

“I think they do a pretty good job, because we have the whole blue light system and everything,” Advani said. “They always text us when there are different threats on campus just to keep us aware of our surroundings.”

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