Event planning investigated after talent show gun scare

Campus administrators met Monday to follow up on a gun scare that occurred last week and determined that the event should have been held in the Marshall Student Center (MSC).

Any events that are not academic in nature and include more than 60 people are not allowed to take place in Cooper Hall, where the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity held a talent show Thursday night, said Dean of Students Kevin Banks.

During the talent show, David Joseph Thornton, who is not affiliated with USF, brandished a gun outside the Cooper Hall Auditorium after he was booed offstage and asked to leave the event. He pointed the gun at a group of about 100, said UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross.

“(The event) should have been in the MSC,” Banks said. “We want to find out what steps didn’t happen that led the event being moved to that venue.”

Administrators are still gathering information about the incident so conclusions can be made, said assistant chief of police Major JD Withrow, who led the meeting.

He said the meeting was planned late Friday, so there had not been much time to investigate.

“We opened up more questions than answers,” Banks said.

He said administrators would try to determine how and why the event’s planning happened as it did.

“(We will) see if we need to do something different with protocols of events on campus,” Banks said.

Withrow said administrators plan to talk to fraternity brothers as well as event coordinators, and Banks said the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life would also meet with the organization.

The Events and Meeting Services Office will also follow up with its staff for further clarification on where the event was supposed to be held and whether it was correctly scheduled, Banks said.

“We have to finalize those questions and make determination whether we have to say that organization was or wasn’t responsible,” he said. “When you plan properly, you prevent poor performance.”

He said the Univeristy needs to make sure people are educated about how to properly plan an event.

“In the long run I think it’s going to be helpful,” Withrow said.

Administrators at the meeting Monday included Banks and Withrow, as well as associate director of the MSC Greg Jackson, academic services administrator Lynda Farris, Safety and Compliance Manager for Environmental Health and Safety Carneal Smith, and director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Megan Vadnais.

Additional reporting by Candace Kaw.