What started out as a typical Halloween night at Colorado College filled with booze, costumes and some rowdy behavior quickly went south for one sophomore who found himself on the wrong end of a handgun on the Mathias quad.
While there has been some speculation as to whether or not the gun was real or a toy, the incident marks at least the second time this year at CC where a gun was reported on campus, leaving some involved in the confrontation feeling uneasy about their safety.
Jeremy Harlam was walking with a group of friends from Mathias to midnight breakfast last Wednesday, Oct. 31 around midnight when they spotted some figures across the way.
“We saw a group of four people dressed in all black crossing towards Mathias and [my friend] yelled out, ‘Why are you wearing all black, pussies,” Harlam said. “… One of the group came up to me and said, ‘Who said that?’ I thought it was a CC kid because I was [drinking].”
And, with a little bit of liquid courage, Harlam became aggressive.
“I probably said something obnoxious like, ‘Maybe it was me,” he said. “Literally within five seconds of that confrontation he pulled out a gun, cocked it, and hit me in the face. He didn’t wave it in my face or anything, he literally just pulled it out cocked it and hit me and I just got right in his face because I [had been drinking].”
Some of Harlam’s friends sped ahead to Worner to notify policy and safety officials of the attack and possible armed man on campus.
“Students reported to us in Worner that they had witnessed an assault and that another student had been hit in the face with a handgun and it happened as they were walking from Mathias to Worner,” said Pat Cunningham, Director of Campus Safety. “Then we tracked down the student who had been involved in the confrontation and he told us pretty much the same thing.”
Harlam and the friends he were with were unimpressed by the response time, however.
“I went up to [Campus Safety] after it happened really because I really just wanted to report there was a gun on campus and not so much what had occurred,” said Kenyon McFarlane, a sophomore who was with Harlam when he was attacked. “They made us find [Harlam] first which took a while and still they didn’t want to believe it was a real gun and they wanted us to write written statements.”
McFarlane said she felt Campus Safety was too calm and “nonchalant” in their reaction to the crime and that she has lost faith in Campus Safety and the local police.
“They were very calm about it and I was very upset because I had never seen a gun altercation before in my life,” McFarlane said. “In my mind I thought I would tell Campus Safety and then they would immediately mobilize and go find these people because they were walking towards a dorm.”
Cunningham said Colorado Springs Police officers were dispatched to the area immediately after they received the report but did not find the suspects.
“There was something of a delay in reporting,” said Cunningham. “This happened over on the north side of the library and then the students came over to Worner to report it. The original report we had was not from the victim but rather the two witnesses.”
In an all-campus e-mail sent the morning after the encounter, Campus Safety told the community that, “The students thought the gun may have been fake, but were not sure whether or not it was an actual firearm.”
McFarlane and Harlam dispute that claim.
“I would say that it was a real gun just because when he pulled it out all of his friends were like, ‘What are you doing?’ and they got really scared,” Harlam said. “I told Campus Safety that it might not have been a real gun but that was because I was drinking.”
His friend says she is more sure.
“It wasn’t even that hard how he hit [Harlam], but the way it left a significant mark you could tell it was a real gun,” McFarlane said.
Local police did not complete a report or press charges in accordance with Harlam’s request, said Jason Newton, Campus Resource Officer. For that reason police will not follow up with the crime.
Cunningham stressed the importance of notifying campus officials as quickly as possible during a crime so that they can respond faster. According to the Director, once you remove yourself from a situation it is best to use a cell phone to report an emergency to increase hasten help’s arrival.
As for the victim, he says he still feels safe at CC.
“On campus I feel safe, but off campus I’m looking for the guy that hit me,” said Harlam.