A man armed with a loaded 9 mm pistol and extra ammunition pulled the fire alarm at the University of Oregon School of Law at around 3 in the morning Thursday. This incident kicked off a lengthy search that ended after authorities chased down a series of false 911 calls made by a student phone that the gunman stole after holding the undergrad and another hostage in their dorm room for hours. Ultimately, the 37-year-old man was apprehended and charged with menacing, burglary, criminal trespass, kidnapping, and carrying a concealed firearm.
The community received an all-clear alert at 8:05 a.m.
Thankfully no one was hurt, especially with the incident carrying all the earmarks of a potentially devastating mass shooting, not that this blunts the trauma endured by the students he held hostage.
Meanwhile, the law school responded to the gravity of this overnight incident the only way you’d expect a law school to respond:
A little after 7 a.m. Marcilynn Burke, dean of the UO School of Law, told the law school community in an email to avoid the building and to avoid it even after the all clear message was sent out.
“In light of the situation at the law school, all classes, meetings, and activities should be moved online (ZOOM) this morning,” Burke added. “If you cannot do so, please plan to reschedule those activities.”
Oh, and classes not held in that specific building continued as scheduled. That may strike some people as aggressive, but the law never stops. The threat was neutralized before law students even knew it existed. We’re also running out of class weeks before exams — they’ve got to get these classes in somehow and the technology honed during the pandemic lets them get it done. This seems like the right balance, all things considered.
But for those of you keeping track of law school accommodation priorities: “COVID Outbreak” = live classes go on, “Armed Gunman” = Zoom. Please note this for your future endeavors.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.