by CALEB LILLQUIST
On Saturday, Aug. 31, officers were called to the scene on 1100 block of 27th Street near campus in regard to “Shots fired.” When officers arrived, they were met with people leaving the party where a Drake student had been shot. Upon investigation, the police learned that a student had been shot when other Drake students had accidentally discharged a weapon that, according to police, went through the wall and hit the victim in the head. There is no information regarding the type of weapon that was fired. Though the student’s injuries were not fatal, the student was rushed to the hospital.
The night of the incident, Drake students received a Bulldog Alert through their email and mobile devices informing them about “heavy police presence” near the campus. It was not until the next day that students received an email from Dean of Students Jerry Parker, informing the Bulldog community about what happened that Saturday night.
“We can confirm that a Drake University student sustained a gunshot wound during a party at an off-campus house shortly before midnight on Saturday, Aug. 31. The injury is serious but not life-threatening, and, gratefully, no one else was hurt,” said Jarad Bernstein, the communications director for Drake University, in a statement via email. “We have been providing support to the injured student and that student’s family, as well as other students affected by the incident.”
The email also went into detail about the accident, stating that “Regarding the gunshot, the Des Moines Police Department (DMPD) and Drake Public Safety rushed to the scene that night. DMPD conducted an on-site investigation, indicating that the firearm discharge was accidental; another person in an adjacent room discharged the gun.” The email confirmed that the university is conducting its own investigation, though no further information has been released due to legal and privacy concerns.
So far no criminal charges have been filed; however, in a 13WhoTV interview with Des Police Sgt. Paul Parizek states that, “It certainly looks accidental and somebody was mishandling a firearm. We don’t believe it to be intentional, but there’s a real strong possibility there could be criminal charges moving forward.” In the same article, Sgt. Parizek also stated that the doctors had removed a bullet from the victim’s head from the shooting.
Public Safety Director Scott Law affirmed that Drake University is committed to the safety of its students, faculty and staff. He explained that Drake Public Safety takes all security concerns seriously and that he and his team work with local law enforcement to continually ensure a safe environment for the Drake community.
Law offered some insight pertaining to gun safety on campus. He said that the university does not allow firearms on campus; however, law enforcement officers do have clearance to carry their weapons for the sake of their job duties.
Law also weighed in on his thoughts on student safety in general.
“My main piece of advice would be if you see something or become aware of a potential problem, let Drake Public Safety know,” Law said. “I would also remind everyone to use reasonable steps to help with your own safety. Use the Drake Guardian App, Safe ride bus and other safety initiatives that are available to you.”
Assistant Dean of Students Tony Tyler encouraged any student who may be experiencing feelings of distress or anxiety regarding the incident to reach out to the Drake Counseling Center. Services offered by the counseling center include a crisis text line, counseling appointments and an anonymous online forum regarding emotional health.
Tyler additionally expressed his thoughts on the importance of safety at Drake.
“I typically think of campus safety in terms of two items: security and relationships,” Tyler said in an email. “Strong relationships can also help us to have a safer community. The more we watch out for each other and engage as active bystanders, the safer the communities we have.”
Any student who may be feeling distressed can reach out to the Drake Counseling Center. They can be reached by calling 515.271.3864. If a student feels like they are in crisis, they may reach out to Drake Public Safety at 515.271.2222. More resources are also listed on the Counseling Center website, here: https://www.drake.edu/counselingcenter/