Highline College Interim President gives update on shooting incident


Highline College Interim President Jeff Wagnitz sent out the following email to students this week, regarding last Friday’s (Feb. 16) suspected shooter incident.

The incident began around 9 a.m. last Friday, when Highline’s Public Safety received multiple reports of possible gunfire on campus. The campus was placed on lockdown while law enforcement investigated. At approximately 11:38 a.m., law enforcement gave the all clear and the emergency condition was lifted. Classes were cancelled and the campus was closed for the rest of the day.

Wagnitz notes that law enforcement continues to investigate what happened initially and that the college will release information as it becomes available.

Dear Highline College students:

Last Friday’s suspected-shooter incident was, to say the least, an unsettling event for our campus. In the end, the most positive outcome was the absence of victims. We were fortunate.

At one level, as a community, we shared a common experience Friday. Yet we also recognize that the impacts on specific individuals will vary considerably, depending on where people were, how long they waited for the all-clear, and what prior experiences they’d had. To address those very different reactions, we need to come together, understanding and supporting one another as we regain our balance.

Again, as I wrote on Friday afternoon, I deeply appreciate the cooperation of our faculty, staff, and students in reacting to the morning’s incident. Of course there were glitches and uncertainties — more on that, later — but overall I think that the campus reacted admirably. Thank you.

The police continue to investigate what happened initially. We will release information as it becomes available. Law enforcement representatives will be joining us at our planned forum at noon Friday in Mount Townsend Room (Building 8).

As we reconvene today, I want to offer some information and outline some services that the college has arranged in the interest of making the transition easier:

  • Counseling support: Highline counselors are available. Make an appointment at the front desk in Building 6, 2nd floor.
  • Increased safety presence: The Des Moines Police Department will be increasing its patrol on campus this week. All of the college’s Public Safety officers will work extra hours this week.
  • Reporting and information-gathering: We have created an Incident Feedback form where you can submit information that we can use for improving our facilities, safety plans, and training in the future. The site is not intended as a police tip line, however. If you have information to share with law enforcement, please contact Des Moines Police Department at (206) 878-2121 or Online Crime Reporting.
  • Community-building and sharing: At Friday’s open forum, we will have the opportunity for large-group conversation. We will also leave time to hear your questions and concerns.

Right now, in addition to serving as mutual supporters, we all need to be learners. The college and our partner agencies are committed to gathering and applying every lesson we can as we plan for the future. We hope that we’ll never need to apply what we learn, but we want to take every advantage of Friday’s events to make the campus even safer, going forward.

– Jeff

Jeff Wagnitz
Interim President


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