October 4, 2011
To members of the campus community,
I am writing in response to questions and concerns I have heard following the incident on campus last Tuesday, September 27, 2011. The Cal State Northridge community experienced what is becoming an all too familiar event on university campuses. A witness alerted University police that a male outside the Oviatt Library had indicated he might have a gun.
We take such situations very seriously, with the primary goal of keeping our campus safe. Having learned that the person who indicated he might have a gun entered the Oviatt Library, an immediate decision was made by University police to evacuate the library building and conduct a thorough search. Based on this information, the first emergency notification was sent to the campus community.
After this first emergency notification with the suspect’s description, a second witness came forward who had observed what he believed to be the same individual. This second witness provided a photograph which was then sent to the campus community, asking the community to be on alert for the person in the photo.
Many of you have asked why classes were not canceled. Others have asked what prompts a decision to close the campus. Decisions are made based on information specific to any particular incident. At no time was it substantiated that the individual actually had a gun. The decision was made that the campus would remain open and the campus community would be updated at regular intervals. It is not our practice to close the campus based on an unsubstantiated threat.
Police systematically searched the Oviatt Library floor by floor for the person and any evidence of a gun or other explosives, and also searched other campus buildings. Our police also asked for assistance from other local law enforcement in order to bring canine units into the library. Because this type of search takes many hours, a decision was made to keep the library closed for the rest of the day. After a thorough search, the library was cleared to resume normal operations the following day.
As we shared with you last week, the individual, Gahren Moradian, a student, was taken into custody Tuesday evening. We thank the members of the campus community who came forward with information that assisted in the investigation and resulted in the student’s identification. The student has since been released from custody but is not permitted to return to campus pending the resolution of this matter. If you should see him on campus, please immediately notify Police Services at (818) 677-2111.
We understand that faculty, staff, students and their families were concerned and sometimes fearful. We know too that while many elements of our emergency notification process worked well, some did not. Police and administrators are actively following up on areas identified as needing improvement.
I want to thank the campus community and acknowledge the considerable tensions and inconvenience experienced by faculty, staff, students and their families. Unfortunately, events of this type are becoming more common on campuses and elsewhere, and similar events are likely to happen in the future.
I especially want to thank and acknowledge those who work in the Oviatt Library building. Having been evacuated, many were outside for an extended period of time and not able to go home because their belongings, including car keys, were in the library. Many of these individuals were of tremendous help, assisting police by aiding in the evacuation and in guarding the perimeter of the Oviatt Library area, and also providing assistance to one another during the long day.
I also want to thank all members of the campus community who assisted by remaining calm, helping others, carrying on the work of the University, and demonstrating the resourcefulness, collegiality, and resilience that consistently characterizes Cal State Northridge. Lastly, I want to thank our University police and all others whose excellent work and cooperation helped to keep our campus safe.