By Mike Wheet
In response to the shooting that occurred in the Lagunita parking lot on the evening of Saturday, May 14, campus police and student leaders are considering changes to security measures at large events.
The incident happened across the street from Roble Field, where Blackfest had ended approximately 30 minutes earlier. According to some witnesses at the shooting, an argument broke out and multiple shots were subsequently fired at the ground.
Student leaders involved with Blackfest anticipate that the incident will lead to increased security in future years.
The most recent Blackfest was much more crowded than expected. In 2010, approximately 700 people attended. This year, Blackfest artists Big Sean and Travis Porter rapidly gained popularity and drew a larger crowd, which included a sizable number of students from other universities and community members unaffiliated with Stanford.
Blackfest co-chair Lexi Butler ’11 said her group “organized the event based on last year’s attendance.”
“No one knew it was going to get that big,” she added, referring to this year’s estimated 4,000 attendees.
While planning this year’s event, Blackfest organizers requested enough security for a 1,000-person crowd. Butler claimed additional security might not have prevented the incident and stressed that other measures are needed to keep future events safe.
“I think heads of the University, security and students who plan big events now realize that ‘Hey, people will come to our campus.’ We need to think about how to protect it,” Bulter said.
Following the incident, the Stanford Concert Network (SCN) is reconsidering how it will work with other student groups in the future. SCN provided $3,000 in funding and technical support for Blackfest, but was not involved in organizing the event’s security.
“[The shooting] might affect how we run things on our end,” said Alberto Aroeste ’13, financial manager for SCN. “We don’t want to be outsourcing our work. We work very closely with the deputies.”
Aroeste could not comment on the concert network’s involvement in next year’s Blackfest as the SCN board had not discussed it yet.
The Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) is continuing to actively investigate the case. After the shooting, SUDPS officers detained and questioned two suspects who attempted to flee the scene. The police released the suspects because there was not sufficient evidence to make an arrest.
Officers also found a handgun near the area where the suspects were apprehended. Detectives investigated the registered owner of the handgun and whether the owner could legally possess a firearm. To date, both questions remain unanswered and charges have not been made.
“Nothing has been brought to the D.A. at this time, the detectives are still doing fact-finding,” said Sergeant Chris Cohendet.
He added that SUDPS hopes that charges can be brought forward soon.
Cohendet also acknowledged that large events will require greater security in future.
“We have to look at these events in a new way,” he said. “Someone could’ve seriously been hurt or killed.”
Blackfest organizers and police say that the shooting, combined with other security incidents this past year, should remind everyone of campus’s vulnerability.
“This year, our safe little bubble has been shaken,” Butler said.
“The Stanford community is a very safe community, but it’s not invincible to outsiders,” Cohendet said. “Students and community members need to be aware of their surroundings.”