Shootings Bring Unwanted Spotlight to TSU
By J. Michaux
Meter Staff Writer
Recent shootings on and adjacent to the campus of Tennessee State University have thrust the HBCU into the national limelight. Students and alumni have taken to social media proclaiming #IAMTSU and #PRAYFORTSU.
The first shooting during Homecoming Week took place on Oct. 14 at a private residence on Albion Street, across the street from the campus. Three students were injured, one critically. The second shooting, related to a dice game, was on Oct. 22 near the Floyd-Payne Student Center. One person was killed and three students injured.
Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said the Oct. 22 shooting stemmed from an argument over a dice game that escalated into a physical fight and then gunfire in a TSU courtyard.
Aaron said young people were gathered in the courtyard by the Floyd-Payne Campus Center when shots rang out around 10:50 p.m. Cameron Selmon, 19, of Memphis was killed. One or more of the bullets hit Selmon, who died at the scene. He was not a TSU student, a university spokesperson said.
Three female students, who were passing by the dice game, were injured. One woman was grazed by a bullet and refused treatment, Aaron said. The other two were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where they were treated and released.
Freshman Terrea Thomas said she was saddened to find out about the shooting on Twitter. “I was even sadder because this has been going on for a while now,” she said.
Hours after the shooting, a somber Mayor Megan Barry pledged to repair the damage violence has done on the school’s campus and the surrounding neighborhood. Mayor Barry was flanked by TSU President Glenda Glover and several Metro police officers during a news conference on Oct. 23. “The community must unite to fight that violence, which often invades TSU from beyond its borders,” the newly-elected mayor said. “Tennessee State University and the community that surrounds it is an incredibly important part of the fabric of our city. It will be a goal of my administration to invest in and revitalize the area in order to improve the quality of life for residents and support the local economy.”
To accomplish that goal, Barry said, Metro police will patrol the campus at night, joining TSU police and security guards who already are on duty. The added security measure began on Oct. 23. “Despite the shooting incident (Thursday) night, we believe the TSU campus is a safe place,” Barry said. “Our police department will work with Dr. Glover and the TSU Police Department to help ensure it stays that way.”
During an interview Friday, Glover said TSU had invested $1 million over the past year on campus safety improvements. Some of that money went toward new fencing, lighting and security cameras, she said. Glover said the university also is working to hire more campus police officers.
According to the news reports, TSU surveillance video captured two individuals fleeing shortly after the shooting. The Metro police department is teaming with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to offer a $5,000 reward for information on the gunman’s identity. That is in addition to a reward of up to $1,000 offered by Nashville Crime Stoppers. At presstime, there had not been any arrests and anyone with information or footage of the incident is encouraged to call crime stoppers at (615) 74-CRIME.
The killing at TSU marked Nashville’s 58th homicide this year and the third homicide that was reported that night. Last year at this time, the city had 34 homicides.
In the Oct. 14 incident, the students were shot after three people were denied entry to the off-campus party where over 100 were in attendance. The wounded included 19 and 20-year-old students from TSU, Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
Eric Freeman, a 25-year-old TSU senior studying mechanical engineering said, “I was walking up the street to the party to see my cousin when I heard gunshots, ‘boom, boom, boom,’ and I hit the ground. People were running in all directions. Cars started whizzing by.” That’s when Freeman said he got up and saw a body in the street at the intersection of Albion Street and 33rd Avenue North. It was his cousin.
At presstime, police were still searching for the three suspects. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Electronic tips may also be sent to Crime Stoppers by texting the word “CASH” along with their message to 274637 or online at www.nashvillecrimestoppers.com. A cash reward is being offered.
These are serious issues but there are other important statistics and facts about the TSU Crime rates and occurrences according to the 2015 TSU Police Department Annual Campus Security (TSUPD), Crime Awareness and Fire Report.
The Tennessee University State University Police Department (TSUPD) released their annual security report dated Sept.11, 2015. Listed below are the statistics and classification of offenses from 2012 to 2014 reported, logged or managed.
Any offenses not listed ranked zero in all categories.
For three years in a row, the TSUPD did not have any numerical data for murders on the TSU campus or in the residence halls in addition to zero reports of manslaughter on campus or in the residence halls. The report indicates arrests for possession of illegal weapons but does not clearly indicate if these were students. The report also does not clearly identify if the illegal weapon was a firearm or a knife. However, the report clearly indicates there were no murders or injuries as a result of firearms if any being present on the campus.
According to a recent issue of The Tennessean, Vanderbilt University ranked highest in every category of the 2014 occurrences of forcible/non-forcible sex offenses, domestic and dating violence and stalkings that occurred on local college campuses. Other local schools listed were Belmont, TSU, MTSU, Fisk, UT-Knoxville and Austin Peay Vanderbilt ranked zero in sex offenses, non-forcible, but so were the other seven schools.