Two Taylor University students interrupted an individual going through an unlocked car on campus. When the students confronted the individual, he pointed a firearm at them and fled campus in a vehicle with two other suspects. No students were injured.
Sophomores Colton Trampler and Jack D’Arcy were in the Breuninger Hall lower parking lot when they saw a suspect in Trampler’s unlocked car on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Taylor Police were notified shortly after. The incident remains an open investigation, Jeff Wallace, Taylor University chief of police, said.
TUAlert was not activated at that time since the threat was determined to have left campus. Holly Whitby, vice president of enrollment and marketing, emailed a statement to the Taylor Community saying that additional patrols were stationed throughout the day as an extra precaution..
Trampler and D’Arcy left their residence hall at approximately 7:20 a.m.
The two had initially assumed the individual was a friend. Trampler called out to him and, upon realizing he was a stranger, chased after the individual to ensure nothing had been stolen.
As Trampler and the suspect reached the end of the Breuninger parking lot, the suspect turned to face him.
“He's got like a metal flashlight in his hands, and he kind of squares up and takes a step forward toward me,” Trampler said. “I take a step back. (He) takes one more step forward, and I kick him because he's advancing on me.”
The suspect picked up a rock the size of a softball — Trampler then called 911.
The suspect then ran back in the direction of D’Arcy where Trampler saw two other individuals. Trampler ran toward the suspects’ direction as he described their location to the dispatcher. The suspect he had kicked then pointed a firearm at D’Arcy.
The group of suspects moved toward their own vehicle and the armed suspect then shifted the aim of his firearm at Trampler.
“I didn't really even have time to be scared or think, like it was just all, like, reaction,” Trampler said.
The suspects immediately fled campus in a full-sized white SUV, driving out of Taylor’s south exit westbound on Overlook Road. The 911 operator dispatched Taylor police, who arrived at the scene minutes later.
Trampler and D’Arcy reported seeing the individuals peeking through car windows before realizing the suspects were not Taylor students. Neither student recognized the three suspects involved: one white male and two black males.
“Not in my 20+ years here at Taylor University has a firearm been pointed at a campus community member on campus,” Wallace said. “Sadly, these types of events occur daily across our county in towns, cities and counties of every size and population.”
The university campus police department is collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to close the investigation and are looking for related information that might connect with the incident.
While the incident has yet to be resolved, Trampler and D’Arcy continue to feel safe on Taylor’s campus.
“I'm not worried about our campus,” D’Arcy said. “This is not a place where that happens. I’d still walk across campus at night.”
Trampler said he had never experienced issues leaving his car unlocked before the incident. Nothing significant had been stolen from his own vehicle, except for maybe some change.
“I mean, honestly, it was my gut reaction to chase him, but stuff just is not worth your life,” he said. “The Lord protected us this time. Students should probably know if you see someone doing criminal activities, call the police. You're not the police, you really shouldn’t (engage.)”
Wallace does not recommend students chase suspects in those circumstances and endorses the run, hide, fight model instead. The other best thing students can do, he said, is be observant, while staying physically safe, and share any relevant details with 911.
He also said students should never leave valuables in their vehicles. Vehicles should be locked at all times.
The safety of the entire campus is a priority in every incident.
“From a safety perspective, the strength of any community is in the ability of all of us to pay attention to our surroundings and practice good situational awareness,” Wallace said. “If something doesn’t look right, call us. Even if it isn’t an emergency but something just seems out of place, call us, and let us respond.”
Taylor’s Student Life Handbook prohibits students from possessing or storing firearms of any kind. Failure to follow the university’s firearms and weapons policy can result in immediate dismissal from the school.
Taylor police have officers on duty 24/7. Students should always call 911 in emergencies, even if they are unsure if an incident constitutes an officer.
For non-emergencies, students can contact their Taylor police’s hour line: 765-998-5555.