Several HACC students claim they received Campus Safety's voicemail when they called for help during Wednesday night's kidnapping of a student by her boyfriend. Now, questions about the community college's security have resurfaced.
“It's scary,” said one witness who spoke to abc27 on condition of anonymity because she was so shaken by the event. “Especially with the rape that happened in
December and the Newtown thing. It was too close to home for me.”
This witness said 33 year-old Julian Amway burst into her English class Wednesday night and demand that his girlfriend come with him.
However, she said more frightened when she realized that help was out of reach.
“We called campus safety and were disappointed to know we had to leave a message,” she said. “So we preceded to call police.”
Several others students said their calls to HACC's dispatchers also went unanswered.
Director of Campus Safety Todd Crawley was out of town on Thursday so Assistant Director Ian Parchen and explained what went wrong.
“There was just an influx of phone calls all at once. Our system wasn't designed to handle it,” he said. “It's an improvement we're going to be working on in the future.”
The day after the incident, Sara Mehretab walked to class the way she always does – alert but not afraid.
“As long as I get to and from where I need to be, maybe stay in groups, I can get everywhere I need to be ok,” said Mehretab.
But when she heard about student who reached out to Campus Safety only to get their voicemail, she had another reaction.
“Wow. I can't even say. I'm speechless. That just an influx of phone lines jam up … now that gets me back worried again … but as long as I get to and from where I need to be, maybe stay in groups, I can get everywhere I need to be ok.”
Parchen said Campus Safety is looking at making improvements to the system by installing equipment that would re-route calls to other emergency services.
Parchen also said Campus Safety offers a 24/7 escort service to and from classes to vehicles.
“If anyone feels unsafe … we're here for that reason,” said Parchen.
Many students say the abduction and sexual assault of an 18 year-old female student in December is still very fresh their minds.
Between the two abductions, Mehretab said she might take Campus Safety up the escort.
“I think I might start using it a little bit more often now that I know I need to be more aware of my safety.”