Association of Research Libraries
Research Library Issues 289 2016
and the chief of police—heading to a nearby parking lot to start the
impromptu press conference. Katie approached them, again asking for
information and expressing concerns about staff and students inside
Strozier and Dirac. From that moment, Katie and Bridgett stayed with
the officials, who were in communication with a team of administrators
in a “situation room” not far away.
Gradually, students and staff were being evacuated from Strozier Library.
Videos from cell phones show students being led through the building in
small groups, hands in the air, ordered to leave their belongings behind.
In the background is a chaotic scene with tables and chairs turned
into barricades.
While the police were sensitive to the students’ fear and confusion,
there were still too many unknowns to take chances. No one knew who
the shooter was or why he did what he did, whether it was the isolated
act of a deranged individual or the first phase of a terrorist operation or
something else entirely. Everyone begged for answers, but no one—not
the police, not the university administrators, not the eyewitnesses—
had any.
Katie and Bridgett learned that staff and students evacuated from
Strozier were sequestered in a classroom building adjacent to Strozier
Library for questioning. Some were then allowed to leave but those most
likely to have seen or heard something were retained. At about 3:00 a.m.
the witnesses were put aboard a bus to the Tallahassee police station for
additional debriefing. Katie and Bridgett were allowed to board the bus.
“For a moment or two, we were able to hug staff and let them know we
knew what they had been through,” Katie recalled. “I didn’t really even
know the overnight staff, but I hugged them all the same.”
Another press conference was scheduled for 6:00 a.m. With nothing left
to do in the interim, Katie took Bridgett to her house to drink tea and
warm up. “Bridgett and I wrote out what we knew, what we didn’t know,
and a list of what we thought needed to be taken care of. We sipped
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