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UW Alert System Didn't Send Notifications Of Shootings Wednesday

Kate Elston

A survivor of Wednesday's shootings in Seattle is improving at Harborview. Leonard Meuse is now in serious condition, upgraded from critical. He was shot by a gunman at a cafe in the Roosevelt neighborhood, Cafe Racer; four others were killed at the scene.

Another person was shot and killed by the same man near Town Hall Seattle. The suspected shooter is Ian Stawicki, a man who was mentally ill. He also killed himself on Wednesday.

Cafe Racer is just north of the University of Washington, only a mile from campus. UW students found out about the episode through news reports or from friends. But some asked the University why UW Police didn't use the official University warning system, UW Alert.


University Police started to use UW Alert after the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. It sends emergency text messages to cell phones. They would have reached several thousand people.

Steve Rittereiser is a spokesperson for UW Police. He says the alert system is only for on campus danger.

Rittereiser: "We were certainly concerned about the situation that was occurring about 18 blocks from campus, but it never presented an immediate threat to the safety of our students or our employees."

Rittereiser says a special text message would have confused people about the level of threat.

An hour and a half after the shooting, campus police sent an email to the university describing the alleged gunman.

UW text alerts have warned students and staff of power outages and chemical spills. Rittereiser says those incidents posed more of a direct threat to the campus.

I'm Kate Elston, KUOW News.

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