A technical glitch in the Oakland University Police Department’s text alert system created panic as students were told there was a shooting on campus and the suspect was at large.
The voicemail attached itself to the text message, according to OUPD Chief Samuel Lucido. He also said the mistake was not the result of human error.
The message, which was scheduled to be sent out at 1 p.m., was intended to be a scheduled testing of OUPD’s text message alert system. It was created to notify students in the event of an emergency on campus.
OUPD Captain Mark Gordon said the department has three pre-recorded messages set up for emergency communication.
“Sending out a pre-recorded call stating the campus is under lockdown and shots have been fired on campus is a great way to inspire terror for no reason whatsoever,” Justin Tonarelli said on The Oakland Post’s Facebook page. “(I) freaked out for like five minutes, calling people I know to make sure they’re all right. This is an oversight.”
Ted Montgomery, director of media relations at OU, said they are working on preventing something like this from happening again.
“During a regularly scheduled test of our emergency communications procedures today, a message announcing a test of the emergency text system was sent to registered users by text,” he said. “Unfortunately, an incorrect message was sent to cell phones of campus community members after the correct message was sent via text. Within minutes of learning about this error, we acted to correct the voicemail message by sending a corrected text, a campus-wide e-mail, reissuing a voicemail message, posting a story to the university web site, and correcting the message through our social media networks. We regret the error and any confusion and inconvenience it may have caused, and we are working to ensure this mistake does not happen again.”
The Oakland Post will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.