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Eyewitnesses Express Fear After Cedar Hall Incident, Concerned About Housing

Cedar Hall Incident | Photo by Rose Taylor | The Wright State Guardian

After the shooting incident at Cedar Hall earlier this semester, students living in the dorms on campus have shared their experience of the event and concerns about housing safety.

The event

According to a university-wide communication, on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, suspect Darryl Patterson was visiting a student in her dorm at Cedar Hall. They began to get into an altercation about missing property—a phone charger—which led to Patterson firing a shot. There were no reported injuries for either party, and Patterson was arrested for felonious assault. 

“Our officers were able to quickly address the incident last night with zero injuries,” Seth Bauguess, the university director of communications, said immediately following the incident.

According to Montgomery County Court Records, Patterson is still in jail and is awaiting trial.

There were several students who gave an eyewitness account of the situation that posed the potential safety risk to campus.

Eyewitness accounts

Laila Turner is a second-year English major at Wright State. She is suitemates with the victim and was the one who called the authorities when the incident took place. 

“My girlfriend and I were getting ready for the gym,” Turner explained. “All we heard was a really loud bang, and I was confused as to what it was because I’ve never heard a gunshot up close before, but my girlfriend’s first instinct was to run.”

Turner explained how she went out to the hall to confirm the incident with other residents before the reality set in.

“Then all of a sudden, I started hearing my suitemate’s audible cry, and that’s when we really went into panic mode and took off running,” Turner said.

Turner and her girlfriend, Salva Pickens, a first-year Crime and Justice Studies student at Wright State, ran through the building to escape as they called the police. Turner ran into a police officer while on the phone with the cops and gave the officer information. 

Shortly after Wright State Police entered the building and told everyone to shelter in place, Turner retreated to Hawthorn Hall with her girlfriend.

“The whole situation was really triggering for me,” Turner said.

Student safety

Turner and Pickens now have safety concerns.

“Our door [in Cedar Hall] is currently broken. At one point, our main door was broken completely off the hinges,” Turner explained. “Anyone could just come and go.”

Pickens explained that as of 10 minutes before the interview, housing was just then fixing the broken door that had been broken for a while. She expressed her frustration with the situation.

“I feel like they shouldn’t have waited until a big accident happened to fix the door. It’s kind of giving that they are sloppy and don’t really care,” Pickens said. 

Turner alleges that Patterson appeared to be living with the victim in her dorm for a period of time. She explained that this worried her for her safety; Turner regrets not speaking up about the situation sooner. 

“I probably should have said something sooner instead of complaining to Salva and my friends; however, I do think that they definitely should have caught it during fire and safety checks. I had to go through her room to get back to mine to grab some things, and it was very obvious that someone else was living there,” Turner explained. “I feel like it’d be obvious if they actually paid attention during winter break fire and safety checks.”

Safety has been a concern for students on campus for the past two semesters, but several members of the campus community assure that the campus is still entirely safe.

WSU response

Bauguess provided a statement regarding the recent safety incidents on campus, particularly the Cedar Hall shooting. 

“Campus is rarely threatened by incidents like these. We are grateful that we have the resources and officers able to handle the incident quickly and professionally,” Bauguess said. 

One of the main concerns Turner and Pickens brought up was that Patterson might have been living on campus. Jennifer Attenweiler, the director of Residence Life at WSU, goes into detail about the process of safety checks and what they are used for.

“For fire and safety checks, we go into each housing unit and make sure there are no fire hazards and make sure everyone is safe and following rules,” Attenweiler said. “We train [Resident Assistants] to look for signs of safety concerns or any housing rule violations.”

Students are encouraged to report any issues to RAs or to the housing department directly. 

Another one of Turner’s concerns is how open the campus is and how the public can access housing. 

“I feel like I never see anyone from the WSUPD come around housing. There are so many random people around, and I feel like they need to patrol more in these areas to keep incidents like this from happening,” Turner said.

Dexter Hicks is a police sergeant with the Wright State Police and has spoken about patrols and the WSUPD’s dedication to safety at Wright State. 

“WSUPD patrols campus all year, all day and night. These patrols are done in campus housing every day and are a mixture of vehicle patrols, foot patrols, bikes, golf carts, etcetera. We are also very active when it comes to housing events,” Hicks explained. “We conduct safety programming and training in various residence halls to try and reach out and ensure everyone is getting the safety information they need.”

Moving forward

Hicks explains that anyone who feels unsafe or sees a suspicious person should report the behavior or incident by phone or by the yellow emergency boxes on campus.

The WSUPD phone number is 937-775-2111.

Additionally, there are several public safety training courses offered throughout the semester that students are highly encouraged to take part in. These training sessions are on the University Police’s website. They are done in-person or through WebEx, and students can sign up on Engage.

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