UCCS community shares perspectives on information transparency following double homicides

In the wake of the double homicides that happened on Feb. 16, UCCS students reflected on how information flow was handled by the school during the following week.

The students criticized the lack of communication coming from the university, noting that the campus reopened too quickly and that the university was not prioritizing the safety of the campus.

During the Day of Healing on Feb. 19, Student Body President Axel Brown criticized the university’s lack of communication. He noted many students came to him wanting to know what was going on and expressed their discomfort in coming back to classes that week.

Lexi Thompson- freshman in anthropology (she/her)

Thompson’s first issue was that the notification system from UCCS did not work as intended.

“I didn’t hear anything until first my work reached out to me, and then my parents reached out to me. I was like the last person to know,” she said.

Thompson raised concerns about the functionality of the UCCS Safe app. She feels that UCCS did not have many updates on the app, which she checked regularly.

The app did not update information in real time, and Thompson thinks UCCS should give it more attention, saying that it has potential to be reliable in a crisis if implemented correctly.

The Colorado Springs Police Department and UCCS assured campus-goers that everything was safe in the days following the shooting while the suspect remained uncaught. Thompson recognized that not releasing information about possible suspects is standard procedure, but she emphasized that campus safety should have been prioritized.

Since UCCS provided very little information following the shooting, Thompson initially assumed that the shooting was a murder-suicide, and that there was no suspect.

“I felt safer, but it was a false sense of safety,” she said.

Thompson also believed Sam Knopp’s, one of the homicide victims, safety was neglected despite three prior complaints he had filed against Nicholas Jordan, the alleged suspect in the homicides. The complaints were received by UCCS Police on Jan. 9 and included a deadly threat from Jordan to Knopp, who was his roommate.

Thompson learned a lot of the information from the incident on the Colorado Springs Police Department’s X (formerly known as Twitter) page, and she doesn’t think that the first place to hear this sensitive information should be from social media.

The Day of Healing held to honor Knopp, the other homicide victim Celie Rain Montgomery and nursing student Mia Brown, who died from a medical emergency in the rec center on Feb. 12, was criticized for being a lackluster media stunt.

Thompson recalled the Wednesday after Brown died having a similar feel. She said that students had labs the next day instead of time to mourn. Since the Day of Healing was scheduled before Knopp’s and Montgomery’s names were released, she felt it was insensitive and dehumanizing.

Thompson questioned why there was only one day for students to mourn before returning to their normal lives, which she attributed to the school going through the motions as a formality to get back to business.

“I understand the need to focus on prioritizing education, but when something like that happens, I feel as though there needs to be more grace,” Thompson said.

Kailene Black- junior in chemistry (she/her)

Off-campus students like Kailene Black share concerns over the way information was distributed. Black lives in Lion Village Student Housing, the same place Jordan lived before being evicted.

Since CSPD confirmed it wasn’t a murder suicide and there wasn’t a suspect in custody, Black said the lack of additional information resulted in a breeding ground for rumors.

“For the longest time, it was like they were only giving us information because people were angry, not because they felt like we deserved it,” she said.

The complaints filed against Jordan prior to the shooting confused Black, who questioned why so much responsibility was put on Knopp, who planned to move out on Feb. 16, to move and not the school. She felt as if the college was saying “that’s your problem, figure it out.”

Black echoed what others have said about the Day of Healing, saying that it was scheduled too early. She added it made her feel unsafe in hindsight, knowing that there was a possibility of a suspect still being on the loose while gathering many students in one spot.

Faculty member at UCCS

Students aren’t alone in their criticism of the university’s information flow.

A UCCS professor shared their thoughts on the events following the homicides but wished to remain anonymous with the risk of losing their job.

The professor said that while CSPD believed it was an isolated event, it’s important to remember that someone on the run is unpredictable. It’s impossible to know how they will act in times of desperation. They said the way the information was released was irresponsible and that giving students the full picture of what was going on to maintain safety should have been considered.

They think that the campus and CSPD should have worked more closely, as many faculty and students got their information from the news and from X as opposed to from the university.

“It’s a bad look, [and] it’s a bad feel, right?… Faculty and staff felt the same way as students were feeling, you know, it’s that we’re not important enough to … have this information,” the professor said.

Regarding background checks for students living in on-campus apartments, the professor said that it may help gauge the severity of complaints filed against roommates, but background checks are not a perfect solution either.

“My concern is that in order to facilitate something like that, that the cost would get pushed to the students,” they said.

The professor said that on top of putting financial stress on students, background checks would also be an invasion of privacy for some students.

They also said there are issues of civility on campus. Combine this poor mutual understanding with multiple parties that have conflicting goals when it comes to gun policy, and you have a recipe for under-resourced systems that struggle to handle emergencies efficiently.

The professor agreed that the Day of Healing, while well intentioned, was announced too early, noting that the event was announced before the names of the students killed were released, and they had concerns about safety since Jordan was still on the loose when the event was scheduled.

This is part two of a two-part series on the campus’ perspectives of the Feb. 16 shooting and the events that followed. Click here for part one.

Photo via UCCS Photography Database.