The example being set through Tech’s case could further advance what Mulhare called the “proliferation” of alert systems similar to Tech’s emergency notification plan. Tech has implemented text message alerts, classroom LED signs and a desktop alert widget since the shootings.
Another point in the university’s response argues Tech officials could not have known the threat level that existed on April 16.
The university letter to the Department of Education said that, “there are many instances in which the Department did not benefit from having all pertinent facts or university operational procedures.”
Mulhare’s response goes on to say that Tech “disputes many of the initial findings of the DOE concerning timely warnings and application of policy.”
“It is the university’s positions that Virginia Tech complied with the Clery Act during the events that occurred on April 16, 2007,” Mulhare wrote.
“DOE’s determination that Virginia Tech’s warning was not timely and inadequate is based on DOE’s knowledge now that a threat existed on April 16, 2007,” the response said. “However, in context, this finding does not fit the known facts early in the morning on April 16, or the law that existed at the time.”
The response claims Tech’s reaction to the initial shootings in WAJ, which occurred around 7:15 a.m. and eventually left both victims dead, was appropriate given the known information. The first warning to the campus community was sent
at 9:26 a.m.
“The potential danger to the campus community was considered,” the response said. “The evidence at the crime scene presented as an act of targeted violence. The crime scene was evaluated by experienced, trained and nationally accredited law enforcement professionals from three jurisdictions (VTPD, Blacksburg Police Department and the Virginia State Police).”
Carter said the policy group, which was a collection of university officials making decisions on warnings, may have believed the suspect had left campus, but they could not have been sure.
“Could anybody have foreseen that 30 more murders would have been perpetrated? No,” Carter said. “But that’s not the point. Was it reasonably foreseeable that an unknown attempted murder suspect at large might have another target? That was a reasonable assumption.”