The Daily Gamecock

Safety for off-campus students an issue following September shootings

Granby Mills is an apartment complex that is home to many university students. Shootings in September have raised concerns among residents regarding the complex's safety.
Granby Mills is an apartment complex that is home to many university students. Shootings in September have raised concerns among residents regarding the complex's safety.

After two September shootings occurred at off-campus apartments Rivers Edge and Granby Mills, some students disagree on whether they feel safe in the apartments.

The Sept. 8 shooting at Rivers Edge left a 30-year-old man dead. As of now, two men have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting. The apartment complex is "examining several options for improvements," a written statement said. 

Prior to the shooting, Rivers Edge resident and second-year criminal justice student Callie Copley said she saw no security cameras on her building. It wasn't until after the shooting Copley said she saw an increase in security.  

"The majority of the nights they have a police officer stationed in the corner of Rivers Edge," Copley said.  

Rivers Edge declined to speak over the phone but did issue a written statement regarding the incident and the safety of their residents.

"As far as we know, there‚Äôs no connection with the apartments. It appears to be the sort of thing that could have happened anywhere. Still, we are taking the situation very seriously. We increased courtesy patrols for the week following the incident until the suspects were arrested," the statement said. 

Third-year sociology student Mihir Bhasin said he sees the one police officer that patrols Rivers Edge "at least once a week." Bhasin said following the incident, residents received two emails. 

"They were just talking about how our safety is the number one priority, and they were keeping us updated with what's going on and why the shooting happened," Bhasin said. 

Copley said she never got the emails and her roommate didn't receive the emails until the late afternoon of the next day. Copley said she found out about the incident on the news. 

"I just really felt like I never really heard from them. ... You would've never thought that there was just a shooting," Copley said. "We just randomly starting having police come in and out."

Both Mihir and Copley said they felt safe at Rivers Edge.

The Sept. 18 shooting at Granby Mills left no one injured. The two shooters, Richard Gainey III and Harlen Shumaker, are facing charges. 

A second-year biology student and Granby Mill resident Lizzy, who did not want to give her last name, said she doesn't always feel safe living in Granby Mills. 

"It's like 50/50. I've had incidents where we were in the living room and drunk kids would open our door," Lizzy said. "I'm fine if I keep my door locked, but it's not the safest sometimes."  

According to Lizzy, most doors outside of students' apartments in Granby are unlocked and most times do not require the use of their key fobs. 

"One of the back doors has a giant hole in it so people can open it," Lizzy said. "We have security guards, but all they're really here for is to tell you to lower your music or to get people out of your apartment for parties." 

The Daily Gamecock reached out to the management at Granby Mills multiple times by phone and email and is still waiting for a response.

USCPD Police Captain Eric Grabski said USCPD plays an assisting role when it comes to incidents near campus.

"We won't be the one's investigating the shooting, but we'll assist in any way we can to provide resources to both the police agency that is in charge of the investigation and also the students that are involved," Grabski said.

According to Grabski, USCPD has statewide jurisdiction and can "affect an arrest or patrol or go anywhere in the state as a police officer and take action."

Grabski recommended off-campus residents utilize university resources such as the victim advocate service and the Rave Guardian Safety App. 

Julian Capel, director of the Office of Off-Campus Living & Neighborhood Relations, said the office can advocate for students if they're having issues with their apartment complexes.

"If we hear something, for instance, from a student or a parent that the security is lackluster or the gates are always open, things like that, we then reach out to the property manager and say 'Hey, this is what we're hearing. What mitigation strategies or plans do you have in place to make this right?'" Capel said. 

Students can contact the Office of Off-Campus Living & Neighborhood Relations through its reporting system or a direct email or call. 

"We will investigate, advocate [and] point them in the right direction," Capel said. "That's really what we're all about."


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