President calls for campus procedure review after SAFE Alert


by Ashley Smith, Editor-in-Chief

INDIANOLA, Iowa — An email from Dean of Students Luke Behaunek Friday afternoon said the Indianola Police Department has been coordinating an investigation into several leads involved in Thursday night’s events.

“At this time, IPD personnel feel that this situation likely involved two separate individuals: a delivery person to campus and an unknown person who may have been carrying a weapon. IPD is still investigating these facts, but at this time, the involvement of two unrelated individuals has been determined to be the most likely scenario,” Behaunek said. 

Behaunek said the IPD doesn’t believe the campus is under threat but there will be an increased presence and Security personnel around campus over the weekend.

Friday morning Simpson President Jay Simmons called for a review of campus safety and security procedures.

The president said in an email that he is scheduling a meeting campus representatives, such as Student Government Association President Sydney Samples and Vice President Heidi Levine, to identify ways to strengthen security measures.

Simmons also noted the SAFE messaging system alerted about 5,000 people via text messaging and emails.

Indianola Police and Simpson Security said there is no imminent threat to campus after they said a man wearing a red jacket was carrying what appeared to be a weapon on the grounds.

Officials said the man is 50-60 years old but didn’t appear to threaten anyone. Simpson Security increased patrol Thursday night around campus as a safety measure.

Amy Robertson Music Building and Smith Chapel were on temporary lockdown. Witnesses said they heard a banging noise as they were exiting the music building.

Simpson Security personnel issued a SAFE Alert around 10:15 p.m. advising students to avoid the area and to find a safe location as police worked to clear the east side of the campus.

After investigating the area, officials found no present threat and issued an “all clear” message just before 11 p.m.

The lockdown is unrelated to last Friday’s incident in which a masked man entered an apartment shortly before fleeing.

If anyone has information regarding either situation, they are asked to contact Simpson security at 515-961-1711 or the nonemergency Indianola Police Department line at 515-961-9400.

There are different viewpoints as to what occurred.

According to a Facebook post from sophomore Hannah Button at 9:17 p.m., an older man in a red coat went into the chapel and coffee shop, pounded on doors and screamed her name. In a comment at 10:01 p.m. she said: “He has a gun, I saw it as I walked back to the music building from the coffee shop. He was walking South on Buxton Street.”

Button called Simpson Security, and they took about 45 minutes to respond to her call, she said in a Facebook message to The Simpsonian.

When IPD arrived, Button gave them the description of the man she saw.

“I was told by officers that they knew who the suspect was as soon as they got the call and given descriptions,” she said. “I was informed last night that this person has caused the same ruckus last week outside Indianola and that he is just known to be the town drunk and do stupid stuff like this while intoxicated.”

Senior Hannah Carlson said the man was her Jimmy John’s delivery driver. In a phone interview with The Simpsonian, Carlson said she saw Button’s Facebook post and realized she had ordered Jimmy John’s a half hour before. She said the driver matched IPD’s description besides the red jacket.

“He called me and was like, ‘I can’t find you anywhere, I’ve been in Smith for 10 minutes banging on doors and calling your name’ and he said something, which was kind of weird like, ‘I ran into the coffee shop and there’s all this food out and I can take whatever I want to.'”

Carlson said it could be two coincidences but she thinks it was all a miscommunication.

Button said she wishes students would take these events more seriously.

“It could have been life-threatening,” she said. “Along those lines, I can tell the difference between a JJ’s sandwich and a gun.”

Students were live-tweeting the events and questioned Simpson’s campus’ safety and security procedures: