Public Safety & Homeland Security

Clark College: Technical Glitch Put 'Drill' in All-Clear Message

'Our real success on Friday was the response by the college community. We asked them to lock down, and they did. That’s where I really appreciate it. Our plans are working as intended.'

by Katie Gillespie, The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash. / June 5, 2018

(TNS) - A technical glitch was to blame for an all-clear message that suggested Friday’s lockdown at Clark College, in Vancouver, Wash., was a drill, the school’s chief security official said Monday.

The good news is that everything else went right after a suspicious person was reported on campus, said Michael See, the community college’s director of security, safety and emergency management.

“Our real success on Friday was the response by the college community. We asked them to lock down, and they did,” See said. “That’s where I really appreciate it. Our plans are working as intended.”

Clark College went into lockdown for about 10 minutes Friday afternoon after, Vancouver police say, 22-year-old Damian Daniel Rodriguez called 911 to report he was armed and had killed two officers on campus.

Rodriguez was not armed, and Vancouver police arrested him on suspicion of two counts of third-degree assault on an officer. He was supposed to make a first appearance Monday in Clark County Superior Court but was too sick to appear, court records show. Rodriguez’s hearing was set over to this morning.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, police responded to the campus at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way and found the suspect, later identified as Rodriguez, walking north on Fort Vancouver Way. When they contacted him, he immediately shoved his hands into his sweater pockets and said he had two handguns and would kill them.

Rodriguez refused to remove his hands from his pockets, and when he finally did, he pointed at officers pretending to hold a handgun in each hand. He then dropped his hands and charged at one of the officers, according to the affidavit.

Two officers used their Tasers on Rodriguez as he ran at them, but the shocks didn’t faze him. Police said that as Rodriguez charged, he waved what was later determined to be a ballpoint pen and crushed soda can in his hands, court records say.

One of the officers hit Rodriguez and threw him to the ground, and he was detained, according to court documents.

The campus was locked down from about 3:30 to 3:40 p.m.

Social media posts, emails, text messages and intercom notices from Clark College alerted people to the lockdown as intended, See said. But the all-clear message issued over the campus’ intercom system as the incident ended said “the drill is over,” when it wasn’t a drill at all, See said.

Shortly afterward, See sent a campuswide email explaining that the confusing all-clear message was the result of a technical glitch that is being resolved through the college’s technology department.

The way See explains it, the glitch is a side-effect of a fortunate problem: It’s rare the school declares real lockdowns. See said he can’t remember the last time the all-clear notice was issued outside of a drill.

“We’re working on resolving that audio,” he said. “That small little glitch in our system didn’t put anyone at risk.”

During a lockdown, people on campus are supposed to go into the nearest building, lock the doors behind them, close the blinds and “basically do their best to disappear,” See said.

“Do everything you can to not appear like the room is occupied,” See said. “That’s what we did. We got a very high level of cooperation.”

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