Akron University “must take the lead” to improve the security of areas around its campus, both for students and the wider community, President Gary Miller said on Tuesday following the death by ball from a freshman just south of campus.
As part of that effort, Miller announced an increase in the number of police officers on campus and the immediate investment of $ 1 million in college funds to launch a camera and surveillance system in the neighborhood south of Exchange Street.
The university will also push the city to take many other steps to reduce gun violence, including working with landlords in the area.
Miller held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to announce the initiatives with “a renewed determination and determination to act quickly to improve public safety in our community and ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.”
Members of the university’s board of trustees are also personally funding a $ 50,000 award for information leading to the arrest and charge of the gunman in the death of 18-year-old student Maya Noelle McFetridge. Two other people who are not students were also injured in the shooting.
“We are deeply saddened that our time with Maya has been cut short,” Miller said. “No matter what goes on in our lives, all of us here will always feel the loss of this young student.”
“It’s just heartbreaking”:Akron University student shot dead in mass rally
McFetridge, 18, from Berea, was gunned down early Sunday morning, just a month after starting her freshman year at AU. She graduated from Berea Midpark High School in 2021. A 25-year-old man was shot and was in critical condition, and a 22-year-old was shot but is expected to recover.
The university did not have a schedule for installing the cameras or the full cost of the project, but officials said $ 1 million was enough to get the program started. Ellen Lander Nischt, press secretary to Mayor Dan Horrigan, said details of the collaboration with the Summit County executive office were still being worked out.
Nischt said the city was prepared to spend $ 300,000 to $ 400,000 on the effort and loan interns who could join college students to monitor the footage, again adding that details had not yet been released. finalized. The pilot program has been in the works for six months and is not a direct response to last weekend’s shooting, Nischt said.
Miller also announced a review of the mutual aid agreement with the city and the implementation of a contract with a private security company “for security support services in the region, providing patrols and a additional surveillance “.
Miller said he did not know how many police officers would be added to the university’s department, which currently has 31 full-time police officers.
He also ordered a review of the campus alert system, responding to one of the government’s requests for undergraduates, which on Tuesday afternoon called for faster alerts following incidents.
“I am confident that these measures will begin to give us control of the critical areas around our beautiful campus,” Miller said. “However, further actions and partnerships will be needed to continuously improve the environment in this important area.”
As a result, he said, the university will push city, county, lawmakers and other law enforcement officials and communities to exert influence where they can, including over landlords. and enforcement of zoning and building codes.
Miller’s press conference came a day after university and city officials met to discuss what could be done after the violence over the weekend. Although the neighborhoods are not part of the university campus, leaving the university with limited power, Miller said UA “is looking more for a leadership role” in the region.
“We are going to work very hard not only to apply the resources that we have – and we have limited resources – but also to be a bigger voice in what is happening in this region, so that the residents who live there, including some of our students are safe, ”he said.
Mayor Horrigan issued a statement reaffirming his commitment to support the AU as a “pivotal institution in our community”.
“Now is the time to do more to support the University by paving the way for a sustainable and independent future,” Horrigan said of his support. “And the first priority has to be safety – period. We are committed to being the University’s primary partner in this effort.”
Akron Police said McFetridge was shot at around 1:20 a.m. Sunday following an off-campus party that got out of hand.
“He got really big,” Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said. “There were groups that came from outside the group that was hosting the party. And it was a collision course. The results are tragic.”
Akron Police Lt. Michael Miller said there were hundreds of people crowded near Kling and Wheeler Streets, and reports of people fighting before the shooting.
He said on Monday that investigators believed someone had fired shots, hitting people in the crowd who were not targeted.
McFetridge was pronounced dead at the scene.
Friends remembered McFetridge as kind and genuine. Her family requested privacy during this time.
Reporters Sean McDonnell and Doug Livingston contributed to this article. Contact education reporter Jennifer Pignolet at [email protected], 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.