On Monday, September 27, a notification was sent out to all Messiah students, faculty and staff that there was a suspicious person sighting. The Department of Safety was immediately called to the scene to deal with the odd behavior of the person.
“[The suspect] was not cooperative and per protocol, since we could not confirm or deny he was a student, the police were called and responded,” Kathie Shafer, Vice President for Operations, said. “Once the police respond to campus they take over as a rule and work closely with the Department of Safety on the situation.”
The suspicious person, who went by the name of Mahammad Ali, was a suspect of vehicle theft. Ali was seen in the upper Old Main parking lot and the Murray Library.
Although the suspect displayed no intention of harming anyone, the police wanted to talk to him and Messiah University planned on asking him to leave and never return to campus.
The next day on Tuesday, September 28, there was a sighting of what people believed to be Ali in Murray Library. It was later revealed through email that the person that was believed to be Ali was a Messiah student that happened to fit the suspect description.
While the suspect has not been seen since Monday, September 27, Schafer and the Department of Safety still urge students to practice good safety habits. Students are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, lock their doors, and not let any person into a secure building if they do not know them.
If a student sees or witnesses something concerning they should not engage with the person, but immediately call the Department of Safety to respond. The Department of Safety is quicker to respond than a police department.
Students are encouraged to have the department’s phone number programmed so it is quickly available. Their phone number is 717-691-6005.
Schafer is grateful that the University has had only a few suspicious person incidents. While it is hard to monitor an open campus, the Department of Safety works to educate people to be aware of their surroundings and report anything that seems suspicious.
“We will always communicate to students if we have an incident like this,” Schafer said. “It is important that they are aware of it.”