John Brown University Statement on Student Arrest

SILOAM SPRINGS, ARK. (November 21, 2017) — Earlier today, the Siloam Springs Police Department took custody of a JBU student and charged him with criminal acts involving explosives. 

These charges stem from the same incident on Nov. 14 that we informed the campus community about on Nov. 15. Because there is an ongoing criminal case and we are not privy to all of the details of that investigation, we have been, and continue to be, limited in the details we can give you, but here is a brief summary of events that we can now share. 

On the morning of Nov. 14, a report was made to the J. Alvin resident director that a student had discussed harming himself during the night and that he might have a gun. The Director of Campus Safety, the Director of the Student Counseling Center, and the Dean of Students were called to the residence hall. Because of the probable presence of a gun, Campus Safety called the Siloam Springs Police Department who responded and took charge of the situation. 

The student was still asleep when the police entered and secured the room. He cooperated fully with authorities and was transported to the hospital by emergency medical personnel. An unloaded gun was found in the dorm room and was secured. 

In the process of investigating the situation that morning, the police were made aware of several other weapons and ammunition that the student had relinquished to a suitemate the previous night. Campus Safety secured the weapons and ammunition and turned them over to police. 

Siloam Springs Police and Campus Safety quickly investigated and ascertained that the student was not collaborating with any other individuals and determined that there was no ongoing security risk. While the student indicated thoughts of harm to himself and potentially to others, to the best of our knowledge there was not a specific plan to carry out any type of campus attack nor was there a specific person targeted. If Campus Safety or the Siloam Springs Police had ever determined that there was an immediate risk to campus, we would have alerted campus through our crisis alert system. 

JBU has remained in close communication with the Siloam Springs Police Department to monitor this case. We have learned today from the police report that the student had been constructing explosive devices and setting them off at an undisclosed location off campus, but there were no bomb-making materials found on campus. We have secured a no trespassing order with respect to the student and the JBU campus. 

The JBU administration, faculty and staff take the safety of our students very seriously. Our Campus Safety department employs nine campus safety (CS) officers who have a combined total of 92 years of law enforcement experience. 

CS officers patrol the JBU campus 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and an armed CS officer is on duty for five day and evening shifts each week. 

JBU routinely reviews our campus safety staffing levels based on many factors including, but not limited to, our relationship with and the response time of the Siloam Springs Police Department, whose headquarters are less than two miles from campus. 

We take many security precautions on campus, including magnetic door locks on residence halls, night watch staff (midnight – 6 a.m.) in residence halls, security camera coverage of high traffic/population areas, emergency response training of faculty and staff, posted emergency response procedures on the door of all offices and buildings, a multipronged crisis alert system, and a trained mental health staff. 

As can be expected, this incident has been carefully reviewed to see what changes may be helpful in minimizing the risk to our students. Our most immediate change will be accelerating our existing plan to increase the number of armed campus security staff so that we have an armed security person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We expect to implement that change as soon as feasible. We will also review best practices for training on these types of situations for the entire JBU community and implement any necessary changes. 

We also want to reiterate that the members of the JBU community are the most important part of keeping our campus safe. If you are ever concerned about the emotional or mental well being of a student, please alert a member of the residence life staff or the Student Counseling Center. It was, in large part, because various members of our community reached out to this student in his time of need that the situation was resolved without physical harm to himself or others. We are deeply grateful that the student made his need known, that his friends responded, and that JBU staff and Siloam Springs’ first responders handled the situation with professionalism, wisdom and care. 

We recognize that this situation was serious, and, given larger events in our world, may cause some members of our community to be anxious and fearful. If you need help, please make an appointment with our Student Counseling Center for free and confidential help or contact Human Resources and we can provide assistance. 

Most importantly, we are grateful to God for his abiding presence, protection, and care for this student and for the larger JBU community. We would ask for your continued prayers for the student, for his family, and for the JBU community.

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