UT Police Enhance Patrols Following Incident in Fort Sanders

The University of Tennessee Police Department is working closely with the Knoxville Police Department investigating an incident last night (Thursday, Jan. 24) in the Fort Sanders neighborhood.

A UT student was shot in the arm after a struggle with an unknown suspect during a robbery. The student received immediate medical attention and does not have life-threatening injuries. The incident happened at about 9:45 p.m. Thursday night in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue.

The suspect described his assailant as black male with a goatee. He was about 5’11” about 170 to 175 pounds. He was described as being in his late 20s or early 30s. He was wearing a white sweatshirt “hoodie” and white toboggan.

UT and Knoxville police immediately dispatched additional officers and are continuing to search for the suspect. After the incident, UT Police implemented UT ALERT procedures that involved a text messaging system, broadcast e-mail, Web site updates and the posting of fliers in the immediate area.

The first UT ALERT text message warned of a person with a gun in the area. Another UT ALERT followed, directing people to the UT Police Web site for more information. A broadcast e-mail describing the incident and urging people to stay inside was sent to all e-mail accounts of students, faculty and staff following the text messages.

In addition to calling in more officers to patrol the area, UT Police enhanced coverage around the residence halls on campus last night. Police patrols, which are normally heavier for Friday and Saturday nights, will be increased even more this weekend.

The university continues to remind the campus community about the UT Alert Text Messaging system– a free service. So far, more than 10,500 people have subscribed to the service.

Subscribing is a simple process and can by done online at https://www.utk.edu/utalert/. Students, faculty and staff need to enter their NetID and password and then the number of the cell phone they want to receive the alerts. Messages also can be received on PDAs and by e-mail.

Several serious incidents, including armed robberies, have occurred this year in the Fort Sanders area. The Knoxville Police Department has responded by assisting UTPD with enhanced patrols and joint units in the Fort Sanders area.

The university has distributed safety information reminders to students living on and off campus, as well as to every permanent home address for all undergraduates. UT also held Safety Day events in both Fort Sanders and the Sutherland Avenue area late last semester. University staff, police officers and other volunteers staffed tents throughout the area and handed out information about personal safety and the importance of taking advantage of resources designed to keep students safe.

The university urges students to not walk alone at night, to always lock their doors, to enroll in self-defense classes and other courses offered by UT Police and always to call police at 974-3111 when they feel uncomfortable or witness suspicious activity.

A free on-demand van service called T:Link is available for individual students to use from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. to travel between locations on campus and in Fort Sanders. Individuals and small groups of students are encouraged to use the T:Late Night bus service that runs a route through campus and Fort Sanders from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to http://www.ridethet.com/.

For more tips, go to http://safety.utk.edu/ or the UT Police Web site at http://www.utpolice.org.

Contact: Elizabeth Davis at (864) 974-5179 or elizabeth.davis@tennessee.edu