October 23, 2009
Dear Members of the Trinity Community:
I write to commend the community for how everyone responded to a scary and, ultimately, sad and tragic set of events last night. I am pleased to report that all the College’s emergency management and notification systems worked precisely as they were designed to do and that the community responded in kind.
As most of you are aware, we received word from the Hartford Police that they were in pursuit of a man who had robbed a McDonald’s approximately two miles from the campus and had followed him to a wooded area between Zion and Summit Streets. Our emergency management team went into action and, at the urging of the police, put the College into lockdown mode. Using our text, voice, and email capacities we notified everyone to get into campus buildings and remain there until we could assure them we were out of harm’s way. This also required that some students, including members of the crew team at the boathouse, could not return to campus. We lifted the lockdown approximately three hours after imposing it, when the police informed us the suspect had taken his own life. Needless to say, a situation like this is unsettling and mixes tragedy, fear, and inconvenience; yet as we endeavor to help each of you to keep yourself safe, it can require some discomfort. I wish it could be otherwise.
As we have learned more about the man’s background, the story has taken on even more tragic overtones. He was a young man not much older than Trinity students, lived in a town in southeastern Connecticut, and had a history of personal problems. He left a note at his home indicating his plans to commit a robbery and to end his life. Police from his area had notified several cities and towns to be on the lookout, which may well have hastened the police response to the robbery. As the police worked diligently to get the young man to surrender himself, he committed suicide.
I want to commend everyone who responded in the ways they did to minimize the risk to members of the campus community and I extend special thanks to Campus Safety and the Emergency Management Team for their efforts to keep us safe and informed. Many of the Campus Safety officers who came to our aid, came in when they were off-duty and without a moment’s hesitation.
For those who would like to gather to share thoughts or offer prayer, Reverend Allison Read will facilitate an open meeting in the Chapel at 4:00 pm today. The counseling staff, deans of students, and chaplains are also available to anyone who would like to have someone with whom to speak. I know as I try and reconcile the varied emotions I experienced, I find the overwhelming feeling is one of sadness as I think about the unnecessary loss of a life and the personal pain that led to it. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
Again, I thank you one and all,
James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College
Professor in the Humanities