Chief of the University Police Department addresses rumor of armed suspect through town hall

Brianna Fay, News Editor

Chief Marty Williamson debriefing faculty and staff about the incident regarding an armed individual on campus. Photo by Jocylnne Landon / The Runner


On Wednesday, Jan. 25, California State University, Bakersfield held a town hall in the Student Union to address rumors of an armed subject on campus the previous week. 

UPD Chief Marty Williamson aimed to inform the CSUB staff and faculty of the events of the prior Thursday. On Jan. 23, Williamson sent out an email inviting campus faculty and staff to a Townhall Debrief.  

On Jan. 19, at 5:05 p.m., the first CSUB Alert was sent out to the entire campus. The alert, sent out in three different forms—text, email, and phone call—read “UPS [UPD] is aware of rumors of an armed subject on campus. We are unable to validate any immediate threat to the campus. Officers are in the area.” The University Police Department, UPD, sent out a total of three CSUB Alerts, with the final one reading “UPD continues to patrol the campus no threat has been identified.”  

During the Town Hall, Williamson said that what started the events on Jan. 19 was the call from whom he described as a “campus person” to UPD. Williamson stated that they were stopped in the parking lot by another person in a truck claiming that there was a man on campus with a gun.  

According to Williamson, the UPD’s next step was, “We start working on trying to figure out if we need to lockdown campus,” stating that UPD starts high. 

Williamson had a PowerPoint on the screen, explaining the levels of steps that UPD should take in these kinds of situations: “Lockdown, shelter in place, evacuate buildings, evacuate campus, and clear to occupy buildings.”  

The campus cannot be locked down, however, unless UPD has “good, validated information,” said Williamson. Therefore, the UPD Dispatch contacted Mercy Southwest Hospital, which is near CSUB off Old River Road, and the Bakersfield Police Department. BPD confirmed that they had not gotten any calls, and Mercy Southwest confirmed that while there had been a small altercation between two individuals, that there was no one confirmed with a gun. 

UPD continued to patrol but, as Williamson explained, “nobody has seen a gun,” and that there was no individual spotted with the “rough description” of “camouflage clothes.” UPD could not verify the rumor and called the officers off patrol after hours of searching.  

While there was no validated threat that Williamson and the rest of UPD could confirm, some members of the campus were still left shaken, especially with the recent news of shootings across the country, notably in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.  

Junior Psychology major Eren Salyer said that he was concerned when he got the first CSUB Alert. 

I was away from campus when I got the alert and was caught off guard by the message. There had been recent shootings in other parts of the country, and I was fearful that CSUB would have been the next major news story. I didn’t want Bakersfield to become synonymous to shooting in the way that Parkland, Uvalde, and Orlando have. Because of the message, I altered my plans for the day until I felt things had calmed down,” Salyer explains. 

For students or staff that might be experiencing any stress or triggers from this event, there are resources that are available on campus for those individuals. Violence at schools can cause trauma in individuals, but the CSUB populous is not alone.  

On the CSUB Counseling Center’s website, there are resources linked on the home page, such as the one titled “Common Responses to Traumatic Stress,” or, “Managing Distress Related to Mass Shootings.”  

While the rumor was not verified, it can still cause trauma and stress for individuals. Therefore, the Counseling Center lists ways to cope with this trauma and stress, such as, “talk about the experience with your friends,” and “ask for help if you are particularly bothered by your reactions to the event.”  

Furthermore, in-person or online appointments with counselors at the Counseling Center can be made.  

Additionally, Williamson elaborated on more ways to stay prepared in events, citing the strategy “Run-Hide-Fight.”  

Williamson said, “What I [UPD] did was give you the best information that I knew… It’s like everything else—people are going to have to make decisions on their own.”  

So that the CSUB populous can take what Chief Williamson referred to as “self-responsibility” to be prepared, on the UPD website, there are two training videos, “CSU Active Shooter Safety Training – Bakersfield” and “Emergency Readiness,” so that students and faculty alike can prepare themselves for any kind of emergency.  

Salyer said, “The CSUB police handled the situation with tact. They were aware of the situation and responded accordingly… I feel safe at CSUB because I have not had the reason to feel otherwise. That combined with a streamlined messaging relay, vigilant community, along with an informed police department, I will continue to feel that way.”