At 12:58 AM on Sunday, September 8, Columbia Public Safety alerted University affiliates of an individual shot at 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The victim was moved to St. Luke’s Hospital in stable condition, and updates on the alert detailed ongoing NYPD activity around the area.
According to the NYPD 26th Precinct, the individual shot is believed to have been caught in the crossfire between two other aggressors. The victim was not affiliated with the Columbia community. The NYPD also added that the investigation is still ongoing, although a notification issued by Columbia at 6:07 AM stated that the NYPD investigation into the event had concluded.
In addition, updates during the time of the incident from Citizen, a 911 scanner app, described police as searching for a “black sedan” fleeing the scene and claims that “another man” might have also been shot in the crossfire.
Students in CC, SEAS, and GS received notice by text and email via Columbia’s Emergency Notification System; those in the Jewish Theological Seminary, an affiliate school of the University, were also alerted by email. Members of Barnard College, however, were not given an alert. This is despite the fact that Plimpton Hall, an upperclassman Barnard dorm, is located at 121st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, just four blocks away from the scene.
Enrollment in the Emergency Notification System is included in the New Student Checklist, a series of pre-matriculation requirements for new students of all Columbia undergraduate schools. Enrollment, per the Department of Public Safety, can be done via SSOL. As of this writing, the only mention of a Barnard-specific notification system could be found in a cached PDF file of the currently offline 2013 Public Safety Security Report. The report reads, in part:
In the event of a significant emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of students or employees occurring on campus; Barnard Public Safety will “without delay, and taking into account the safety of the community, demine the content of the notification and initiate the notifications system, unless issuing a notification will, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.”
Both Columbia’s and Barnard’s notification systems have a history of spotty performance. In 2013, not long after the events of the Boston Marathon unfolded, both Bwog and the Columbia Spectator reported on both schools’ inability to notify students of activity around a suspicious package found on Broadway and West 116th Street.
Bwog has reached out to both Barnard Public Safety and Columbia Public Safety for comment.
Update September 8, 2019, 3:45 PM: Barnard has provided a comment on its emergency notification system, included below.
“We have a separate system that allows Barnard Public Safety to notify only the Barnard Community. However, Columbia University can also include Barnard students in their emergency notifications. Last night, Columbia University sent an alert message after the issue had been resolved. Emergency notifications are for when there is an imminent, ongoing threat. By the time this matter came to our attention the scene was secured.”
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