Near-Tragedies on College Campuses More Common Than You Think

Tim Goral's picture
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The tragic situation that unfolded at the University of Central Florida on March 18 – when an ex-student living in the dorms planned a shooting attack on classmates, but ended up taking his own life without killing anyone else – is a little more common than college students and parents realize.

“It’s not a ‘Once in a blue moon’ thing anymore,” Anne Glavin, president of The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, told Debt.org. “It happens on a regular basis – to the point where I’m trying to sort the ones out I’ve heard this week and remember the details of the incident at UCF.”

Glavin was speaking just a few days after James Oliver Seevakumaran apparently planned a mass killing in one of the dorms at UCF. Fortunately, his plan was not executed. When officers searched his room, they found hundreds of rounds of ammunition, handmade explosives, an assault rifle and a handgun.

Seevakumaran had pulled a fire alarm shortly after midnight, forcing the 500 students in the dorm to empty into an area outside his window. His roommate, Arabo Babakhani, came in and found Seevakumaran with a rifle, which was pointed at Babakhani.

Babakhani quickly closed the door, moved into his own room, locked the door and called 911. UCF police were in the dorm within three minutes. By the time they reached Seevakumaran’s room, he had shot himself, leaving behind enough ammunition to shoot quite a few more.

“There really weren’t any red flags,” Babakhani told the UCF Knightly News. “He didn’t really do anything out of the norm, aside from keeping to himself. He was a very odd individual. I’ve never seen anyone have such social difficulties. He’s not comfortable speaking with anyone.” Those are actually “red flags,” Glavin said. She said that schools must work harder to convince students to tell someone on the staff when another student’s behavior is worrisome.

“The biggest challenge we have is getting people over the threshold for reporting when someone is spiraling out of control,” she said. “People tend to want to look the other way.”

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