The university says within 15 minutes of the gunshot, the campus knew it was under lockdown
KENT – While a handful of students heard the gunshot themselves, most people on Kent State University's campus learned of Wednesday's shooting on their cell phones.
"The first place we put it out during a crisis is a text message," said Eric Mansfield, executive communications director for the university.
More than 53,000 people got the message, sent by police dispatchers as soon as officers confirmed the shooting.
A FlashAlert system lets students and anyone they sign up, including parents and other loved ones, to get information straight from the source.
The university says within 15 minutes of the gunshot, the campus knew it was under lockdown.
"This was taken seriously. It was handled systematically. It took over two hours to clear the whole campus. That probably felt, for some of those people, like two days," said Mansfield.
Kent State is providing mental health services to those who felt the experience was traumatizing.
Throughout the incident, students used active shooter or ALICE training to shelter in place. Safety Director and Kent State Police Chief John Peach said the real-life response by students and staff was better than practiced.
"It was really by the book. It really reduced mayhem. It reduced a lot of confusion. It reduced chaos," Peach said at a news conference Thursday morning.
The communications team sent updated messages as texts, on social media and the website as new details were confirmed and parts of campus were cleared by medics and officers.
"The rumors were really under control. Not too many people got too carried away with it, and the correct information played a big part in people knowing what was going on," said Mansfield.
Mansfield says they did notice a few doors that did not lock properly that will be addressed.
"We hate that we have to practice like this. We certainly hate that we have to go through it, but we're glad that we're prepared when we need to be, which we certainly did last night. It paid off last night for our students. They knew what to do," he said.