In the News: Columbus and Ohio State police squash rumors of gang activity near campus
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Students and parents continue to worry after Ohio State University student, Chase Meola was shot and killed at an off campus party last weekend. Officers are now working to correct misinformation they say is spreading through the community.
"We understand peoples' fear in all of this," Columbus Police Sgt. James Fuqua said. "There has been no credible proof of any kind of gang activity whatsoever. There has been no credible information on any type of retaliation against anyone. We believe this is an isolated incident."
Fuqua also warns people to be careful of what they read online or on social media.
"You are only seeing what people are posting on social media and unfortunately there is no governor for that," Fuqua said. "People can just post whatever they want and that is how things spiral out of control."
OSU Police Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt said she took many calls from concerned family members this week. She has called everyone back to let them know they are working to keep students safe. She said they are working with Columbus police to increase patrols and work to put students' minds at ease.
"Parents and students are concerned," Chief McNatt said. "We are providing extra patrols, special duty and a more visible presence on and off campus. We're trying to give some sense of normalcy to our students."
Students are still voicing major concerns.
In a letter Wednesday, friends of Chase Meola wrote to city and school leaders as well as officers. They claimed they were not being protected. They said they do not feel safe and the crime is causing some students to leave.
"Police in Columbus are handcuffed," students wrote. "The mayor has taken away all of their tools to safely mitigate crime."
Chief Spears-McNatt said she understands students' fears. She encourages them to use safety measures available to them and trust their instincts.
"I want to remind students to use our Rave App, "Guardian." It is an app they can download to let their friends and family be a virtual guardian. We also have a partnership with the share ride service Lyft. That is something that is available to them. Most importantly, look out for each other. If you feel uncomfortable, it is okay to leave the area. Don't hesitate to call the police if you have concerns."