Division of Public Safety explains response to shooting at 40th and Spruce streets

Several UPenn Alerts were issued Tuesday morning and an email was sent to parents Tuesday afternoon

· April 15, 2014, 10:54 pm   ·  Updated April 17, 2014, 7:39 pm

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After Tuesday morning’s shooting near 40th and Spruce streets, administrators described their efforts to keep students safe around the time of the incident.

An email sent out to parents of Penn students during the day on Tuesday described the details of the shooting. “Because of its nearness to campus, we wanted to be sure that you were aware of the facts surrounding this tragic loss of life,” the email from President Amy Gutmann, Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said.

Neither the victim nor the suspected shooter are affiliated with Penn, according to the Division of Public Safety, nor were any of the 25 patrons in the bar at the time of the shooting. There were no other injuries reported, police said.

The email to Penn parents specified that a UPenn Alert was sent at 1:42 a.m. to the “campus community” and that the victim was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania at approximately 2 a.m. The exact time of death was 1:43 a.m., according to the Philadelphia Police Department — one minute after the UPenn Alert and 18 minutes before the approximated time sent in the letter.

The UPenn Alert itself was sent to Penn students 12 minutes after the gunshots were fired.

During those 12 minutes, DPS said, officers were arriving on the scene, verifying the report and searching for the suspect. UPenn Alerts are sent out “as soon as DPS becomes aware of an incident that has the potential of posing ongoing danger to the University,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

DPS added that it can sometimes take seven or eight minutes for all of the messages to get sent to students because the messages need to “build up once the button is actually pressed.”

According to DPS, it took just under five minutes from when the UPenn Alert was issued to when students received the alert.

The exact amount of time it takes an alert to reach people also depends on a person’s cell phone carrier and how many people will receive the alert, Rush added.

Students always receive UPenn Alerts, but in the late night and early morning, only faculty and staff in “student support roles” will receive the alert in addition to the students. During the day, the message will likely go out to all the individuals signed up to receive UPenn Alerts, which could result in a greater delay in the time it takes for the message to be received.

The UPenn Alert did not mention the shots fired near 40th and Spruce streets — it only said that the area was “still under investigation,” although the information about the shots fired was available on DPS’ website.

“We are making judgment calls in split seconds, and the most important thing at that split second is not to give you the most information possible,” Rush said. “It is to get you out of that area as quickly as possible.”

Philadelphia Police said the victim was shot in the chest and torso at point-blank range multiple times from a semiautomatic weapon. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the victim was a 31-year-old male named Timothy Cary.

The most recent controversy surrounding a UPenn Alert occurred in 2011. No alert was sent out to Penn students when a former Bon Appetit employee robbed 1920 Commons at gunpoint and made off with cash.

In March of 2011, a UPenn Alert was issued only within 30 minutes of a shooting that occurred at 41st and Pine streets, advising students to keep clear of the scene. A second alert issued shortly afterward notified students that the coast was clear.

There was no UPenn Alert sent out in a shooting that occurred in November 2010 at 40th and Locust streets, which left one of two carjackers dead after a police chase. The suspects were quickly apprehended and an email notification was issued.

The Daily Pennsylvanian first reported Tuesday’s incident online at approximately 3 a.m. that morning.

Staff writer Cosette Gastelu contributed reporting.

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