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Shooting alert shook IPFW campus

Purdue message triggered chill, confusion for many

Chandler Blake had just left the IPFW campus Tuesday when she received an alert on her phone: “Shooting reported on campus; Bldg. Electrical Engineering; avoid area; shelter in place; Check for updates.”

Blake, 19, knew it was the West Lafayette campus, but many others did not.

As word quickly spread, some students and faculty members thought the shooting was unfolding on the Fort Wayne campus.

Calls also started pouring in to IPFW’s administrative offices, said Nicole Wilkins, the school’s chief communications officer.

Within minutes, in an effort to quell the rising panic, IPFW officials issued their own alert advising that the shooting was in West Lafayette, not Fort Wayne, Wilkins said.

IPFW – Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne – offers degree programs from both Purdue University and Indiana University.

The confusion may have occurred because some students and faculty had previously had ties with or attended Purdue University or Indiana University, Wilkins said.

That turned out to be the case with Blake. Blake, a freshman, had attended her first semester at the West Lafayette campus but came back home to Churubusco in December and enrolled at IPFW for the second semester.

When she saw the alert, Blake recognized the name of the building and knew immediately it was in West Lafayette, because she had attended classes and lectures in that same building just a few weeks earlier.

Blake was horrified when she saw the alert. She knew some of the students who would have been attending classes in that building Tuesday, including her former roommate and a friend, Joe Zumbrun, also of Churubusco.

“I called my roommate and Joe right away to make sure they were OK,” Blake said.

They were shaken but OK, and neither of them knew the victim or the alleged shooter, she said.

Although the Purdue alert had an identifying tagline, many may not have read that far, which may have been a factor in the short-lived panic that occurred in Fort Wayne.

That would not happen with IPFW and Indiana University alerts, because both use a different system that notifies people with campus-specific directives, Wilkins said.

A second alert from Purdue that the shooter had been apprehended clearly identified the campus as being in West Lafayette, Wilkins said.

According to The Associated Press, Cody Cousins, 23, is believed to have targeted Andrew Boldt inside the electrical engineering building, where he shot and killed the 21-year-old.

Cousins surrendered to a police officer within minutes of the attack.

Boldt, a teaching assistant from West Bend, Wis., died at the scene.