BYU grad present at Oregon college shooting

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Panic is a luxury Roger Sanchez didn’t have as screams and panicked 911 calls filled his ears on the day the nation turned its focus to another mass campus shooting, this time in Oregon.

Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. after a deadly shooting Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Students, staff and faculty are evacuated from Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon after a deadly shooting Thursday, Oct. 1. (Michael Sullivan /The News-Review via Associated Press)

Sanchez, a 2014 BYU graduate, began work at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon last June.  He works as the testing coordinator and is the liaison for the local high schools. On Thursday, Oct. 1 around 10:30 a.m., Sanchez was about to leave his office when he started to hear screams.

“Students were just rushing, screaming, yelling, calling 911, (saying) ‘There’s been a shooting.'” said Sanchez in an interview with The Universe. “They just started pouring in…it was like from a movie — total chaos.”

Sanchez and other members of the faculty put their lockdown plan into action. They gathered everyone into a lock down room with no windows. He and others directed the students to turn off the cell phone lights, stay low and stay quiet.

“I was scared to death,” Sanchez said. “Being faculty, I couldn’t panic, I didn’t have the luxury to panic. The students came first.”

Being in a locked dark room and not knowing where the location of the shooter was frightening for Sanchez, but he stayed calm until he got home. That night, Sanchez struggled to sleep.

“The screams of the students kept running through my mind,” Sanchez said. Though the identity of the victims have not been released yet, Sanchez knows some of them personally. The entire school and community have been affected.

School shootings are happening more and more frequently. For Sanchez, knowing the plan was key for his protection and the protection of the students. Though he never expected to be involved in a situation with an active shooter on campus, Sanchez was able to remain calm.

BYU, like Umpqua, has a plan in place in the event of an active shooter situation on campus.  The University Police have provided training videos for campus shootings.  In “Shots Fired: On Campus” and “Shots Fired: When Lightning Strikes,” offer advice on how to be prepared for an on campus shooter.  The videos teach that when gunshots are heard people need to decide on the best course of action between getting out of the area, hiding in a place the shooter won’t look, or taking out the shooter. The “what if” question is important.

“With a campus this size, (lock outs are) virtually impossible,” said University Police Lt. Arnold Lemmon. “One of the greatest things we can do, or students can do, is be informed on what to do.”

The videos can be found on the University Police website.

Being prepared and informed is key. Due to the campus’ size and population, notifying the school of an active shooter is done through the  Y-Alert Emergency Notification System. The University Police will send out a Y-Alert when there is a campus emergency through registered text message numbers, email, and campus phones. University Police has a video training on how register Y-Alert System under the “Crime Prevention” tab of its website.

Sanchez’s advice to BYU students is to know the plan, and if an active shooter is on campus, to stay calm.

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