POCAHONTAS, Ark. – In the middle of an active shooter alert on campus at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, KAIT-TV reported it was a false alarm before the college had given the all-clear.
At 8:29 a.m., the Raycom Media-owned television station, based in Jonesboro, posted to their Facebook page that they were told it was a false alarm by Arkansas State Police. The news was picked up by several radio stations in the area.
The problem, according to Black River Technical College, is that the campus was not cleared of a threat while Region 8 News reported it was.
Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble told NEA Report at 8:40 a.m. he was still conducting a search of the campus for a suspicious person.
That meant BRTC had to begin sending more alerts out to students to counter what KAIT was reporting.
Indeed, a short time later, an individual who was considered “suspicious” by authorities was located and questioned before being determined to not be a threat.
Only then was the lockdown lifted and the determination officially made that there was no threat. The all-clear was given at 9:23 a.m., per BRTC’s page – almost an hour after KAIT reported there was “no shooter” and it was a “false alarm.”
The page admin for BRTC replied to several annoyed patrons, calling it “frustrating.”
It’s one thing to get the story first, but according to BRTC’s Facebook page – KAIT actually created confusion which was not needed on top of the present situation.
BRTC’s page admin even referenced “media” not even being present at the scene while reporting there was “no shooter” before authorities had made that determination.
The page admin responsible for posting the RAVE alerts for the campus said at the time, they did not know what was going on. A staff member anonymously spoke with NEA Report and said everyone was locked into their offices or rooms, hopeful there was no threat to human life on campus. They said these situations aren’t common but they have to be taken seriously and with what happened in Jonesboro at Arkansas State University, with someone who actually was armed showing up, safety is the most important.
With armed police still searching the campus using squad-based tactics, the staff had to contend with mixed information saying there was no threat when that had not yet been determined.
NEA Report reached out to management at BRTC. A message was left in the afternoon and not returned in time for this story.
However, an ASU source said, on condition of anonymity, there are situations where it may be all clear and the authorities may know it is all clear, but they can’t say “all clear” to the public, just yet. Earlier in the year, they had a situation where it was clear at ASU but bomb sniffing dogs were still being employed on the scene and thus, the campus could not release the lockdown, the source said.
This is why you wait until the campus releases the lockdown before you tell people there is no threat or no shooter, according to the source.
“If you get out ahead of it, Heaven forbid something went wrong, then that media outlet owns it,” said an ASU official.
Several calls were made to KAIT throughout the day, none of which were returned as of the time of this publication.