The University of Texas was hit with a tragedy in Austin. On Tuesday, Colton Tooley, who was a student of the school, came armed with an AK-47 and opened fire on the campus. He reportedly took his own life shortly later after running into the school’s library.
Colton Tooley was a 19 year old math major in his Sophmore year in the college of natural sciences. He lived about 10 miles away from the school’s campus in South Austin. It seems that he was living with his parents. He also went to high school in the same city, graduating from Crockett High School.
One of Colton’s cousins spoke on behalf of the family saying that Colton was a smart, intelligent person. “He wouldn’t or couldn’t hurt a fly. If he was depressed you would never know it because he would never express his emotions,” he said.
“He had a black mask, a black jacket dress jacket, a white T-shirt and jeans,” said witness Jose Avalos. Avalos is an electrician who was working in the library.
“He was just yelling ‘woo-hoo’ like if you were at a football game or a sporting event,” Avalos said.
It was a chaotic day for people around the University of Teaxas campus. Calls, tweets, and texts were a lifeline to the outside world for hundreds of students and teachers who were prohibited from leaving their buildings.
At the same time, many of them were concerned that someone they knew could have been shot.
Police spent much of Tuesday searching campus streets with dogs in order to eliminate the possibility that explosives were left. They also eliminated their search for a second suspect, who they say they no longer have.
The silver lining to the University of Texas Shooting is that nobody was hurt other than the gunman. What we learned almost immediately Tuesday is that UT seems to have an effective system in place for spreading the word quickly, effectively and efficiently when dangerous situations present themselves. UT and law enforcement officials will likely review the day to see if there are any improvements that can be made to their system. They currently use outdoor loudspeakers, sirens, text messages and other means of communications to effective spread the word.
“If you are off campus, stay away,” one of the alerts Tuesday said. “If you are on campus, lock your doors and do not leave your building.”
Austin police Chief Art Acevedo, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, UT President William Powers Jr. and UT Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom all said the response went well.
This incident was also a reminder of the importance for members of the University of Teaxas community to make sure they know how to access the emergency notification system. The details can be found at utexas.edu/emergency. Please review them, especially the instructions for signing up for text messages the school sends out when emergencies occur.