AK-47 Allegations on Campus
Photo: AK-47 assault rifles are one of the most immediately recognized assault rifles in the world due to their wide usage, both recreationally and in combat. A UCO student was accused of threatening a professor with one of these firearms. Photo provided by Valentin Penev.
There were several false allegations floating around the University of Central Oklahoma campus about a student threatening a teacher with an AK-47 during a night class on Oct. 25.
The rumored event actually occurred the evening of Monday, Oct. 24, not Tuesday, when a student made a comment outside of his classroom stating that he was going to “go home and get his AK.” This comment was made after poor discourse between the student and his professor.
“He made that statement outside the class. He was having a dialogue with an instructor in front of other students— he was basically frustrated with the class situation,” said Chief of UCO police, Jeff Harp. “Then that frustration made this statement in passing. [It was] simply a way to communicate to others his frustrations … He didn’t have any intention behind it.”
Assistant Vice President for University Communications, Adrienne Nobles, along with UCO President, Don Betz and Jeff Harp are responsible when it comes to sending the campus a timely warning in the event of an emergency.
There were concerns from teachers about a timely warning not being sent out to the campus community because of the rumors they heard about someone making gun threats on campus.
“If there ever [was] any threat to this community, we would take every step and action necessary to address that threat and make sure that our campus community was informed in the most rapid way possible,” Nobles said. “Our police department [and] the administration here takes this very seriously, and if we need to take that action, we are not going to hesitate to do so.”
After the comment by the student was made about the weapon specified, the UCO police were called and showed up immediately after and assessed the situation with the student. Harp said that the student was apologetic and complied with everything the police officers asked.
“We talked to him at length,” Harp said. “He did not have an AK in his car.”
However, the student who made the comment told UCO police that he did have his conceal carry license and did have a handgun in his vehicle. His car was then checked by the officers, and the weapon and license were inspected, and everything was legally in order.
“This student has done nothing but cooperate with us. He met with the student affairs division the following day to talk about what happened. We have no concerns, and as a result of our interview with him, we didn’t issue a timely warning because there wasn’t a need to.” Harp said. “Of course we communicated pretty clearly that you don’t say things like that … People take that seriously, as they should have, and that’s what generated the call to us.”
The reason that no timely warning was sent to anyone on campus was because there was no threat to campus or anyone present at the time the incident occurred.
“If we were to send [a timely warning] out all the time just for a rumor, it wouldn’t have that same effect, because people would look at it as kind of like white noise,” Nobles said. “It’s a big deal, and you can bet when you receive that notification that you need to take action on it.”
The rumor that was passed around campus was that the student had an AK-47 on campus making gun threats to a teacher and that Edmond Police Department and UCO Police Department were involved, ending in the suspect being arrested on campus.
“That is inaccurate,” Nobles said. “None of that happened.”
According to Harp, the faculty could have felt differently about the entire situation, but they are not the ones that dealt with the student or the situation at hand.
“That doesn’t mean that the faculty didn’t feel differently, but the faculty [members] are also not the ones that are standing there talking to this student, getting him to explain exactly why he would make such a statement and piecing together all the different parts of [the situation],” Harp said.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact the UCO Police Department or University Communications if they hear anything that is of concern to them, but they should not spread allegations.
“Any time you have a question, rather than feeding the rumor mill, ask us,” Nobles said. “Give the police a call. You can call university communications as well, and we would be happy to look into it and to address your concerns.”