Real gunfire on one campus, active shooter drill on another cause FIU confusion

Florida International University South Campus in MIami.
Florida International University South Campus in MIami. El Nuevo Herald

There was real gunfire on one campus while an active shooter drill was held on another campus Thursday, causing a mini panic — and for some, confusion — at Florida International University.

At around 1:45 p.m., FIU tweeted, “FIU ALERT! BBC Campus: Police activity is occurring on or near campus! Seek shelter NOW. #FIUalert.”

But the alert confused some who noted that FIU tweeted earlier that an active shooter drill was being conducted at the College of Business Complex on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus, FIU’s main campus near Sweetwater.

The alert centered on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus near North Miami.

FIU spokeswoman Maydel Santana said a gun was fired during an altercation in the motor pool area between two employees of Aramark, FIU’s groundskeeping contractor. She said no one was hurt and those involved were in custody.

She said FIU’s tweet alerting people to seek shelter was pre-written to be sent out automatically and not written specifically for this incident. She said the alert, which was sent via text and email, included directions to seek shelter because a gun was involved.

According to police, two men working in the motor pool at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus got into a squabble. One of them pulled a gun and fired a shot or two into the air. Both men were detained by 2:15 p.m., one of them in handcuffs. As of late Thursday, no one had been charged.

No one was shot or injured from the gunfire. Classes at both campuses will resume Monday.

FIU sent a subsequent tweet in all capital letters urging people to keep clear from the BBC campus motor pool area, although the scene was contained and all other areas on campus were clear. It then tweeted a statement similar to Santana’s comments about the incident, as well as responded to those who confused the two campuses.

When two high school students were assaulted on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus in September, FIU sent a notice via email about the incident. Text alerts, however, were not sent out because it was not deemed to be “imminent danger,” FIU Police Chief Alex Casas said at the time.