Saturday, May 25, 2024


About 2:30 pm Friday Sam Houston State University Officials locked down the campus due to a report of several people with weapons on the campus. Huntsville Police responded as did Walker County Sheriff’s Department to secure the campus. A search of the campus turned up some someone with a Nerf Gun. Even though the gun was found a search continued of the campus. “Remember Virginia Tech, it took two hours before everything really happening,” said Bruce Erickson, Director of Communications for Sam Houston State University. 

The officials say they didn’t set off their campus alert system called Kat-safe until they knew exactly what they had. The alert went out almost one and one half hours after the incident started.  Even though they said they monitor social networks they still failed to put out an alert as they didn’t want to create anxiety Erickson said.

Messages started almost immediately on Facebook and Twitter with very few factual accounts of what was happening. One message stated there were bodies all over in the library. Another that the shooter had shot several students. Even another that ambulances were lined up.

It was not the system failing but Communications Director Bruce Erickson deciding not to implement KatSafe so that police could verify the information. He did also state that if there was a real gun, response would have been quick. They wanted to determine if the initial call was factual. Erickson did go on to say, “Overall, the students should rely on social media in the absence of KatSafe.”

The press conference lasted almost thirty minutes and what Erickson said as he approached the podium he had no written statement. However at times he repeated himself. He appeared nervous at times as he spoke drumming his fingers on the podium. Several times he had to rely on a SHSU  officer for correct information.

The KatSafe system notifies almost 20, 000 pagers, phones and texting devices of students, faculty and parents. Erickson said they have many canned alerts prepared to go out but to write one takes some time.

Back on April 17, 2008 several students were gathered in what is called the Pit Area of the campus when one student pulled a gun and fired a shot into the air. Nobody was injured but the computer lab and a shop were locked down. At that time a library worker was notified by students and not notified in any other manner including when she called cmpus police.



"This is a message from the KatSafe Emergency Communication System. University Police have resolved a report of persons on campus carrying guns. Police have confirmed that the individuals involved were students engaged in a "nerf ball" game. There is no threat to the public. Repeat. This report has been resolved. There is no threat to students or the public."


Sam Houston State University police received a call Friday (October 22, 2010) mid-afternoon of persons on campus carrying guns.  The University immediately implemented its critical incident management plan. Police later determined that the individuals involved were students engaged in a “nerf ball” game.  I would like to compliment the cooperation, collaboration and response of the University PD and the other local agencies who responded.  In my view, the incident was handled well and we have identified in this “live” experience ways to improve our communication. We are grateful that this incident had a good ending.





nerf nerf-vulcan-gun1 nerf-wii-gun-peripheral



  • Troy Reynolds katsafe = free condoms from the quack shack

    Sam Moreno Whatever. I still was notified of anything. What if it was real??

  • Katelyn Monk My feelings exactly Sam!

  • Angela Hawkins Katsafe is a warning system…it’s not EPT. Meaning, there’s going to be some lag between "nerf gun fight" and "message to students". I agree that one hour is a bit long, but maybe the police were trying to stabilize the situation on campus instead of tweeting/texting/etc. Let’s all calm down.

  • David Ατω Matocha

  • DG>’we have identified in this "live" experience ways to improve our communication’
    Wow, that’s some impressive SPIN. In other words: "Our emergency communications system failed miserably and I’m happy that there were only Nerf bullets bein…See More

    Brian Dwayne Howard Yeah I am completely disappointed with Sam Houston and how they totally failed at notifying students that something of this magnitude was even going on lucky for us it was a false alarm but what if next time its real. I think that the president and the dean need to get after whoever decided to send us a message from katsafe almost two hrs after the incident was resolved because I for one is disappointed in the university and how the situation was handled.

  • Caleb Bentley Let’s just learn from this and do better next time people.
    Katsafe didn’t work, get over it, hopefully we won’t need it again.

  • Lacey Klein I don’t think you should be telling people to "get over it" when all of our lives COULD HAVE been in serious danger.

  • Sarah Elizabeth Mattix Angela, we were on lock down. All of the buildings locked. It is the schools obligation to tell me if we are going on lock down for any reason. I should get a message telling me it’s not safe to go outside.

  • Angela Hawkins Well, if the buildings were locked, then you couldn’t get outside, right? I am not saying you didn’t deserve to know, but everyone needs to calm down.

  • Amber Johnson Faust

  • The point is that the system is in place to warn students and it failed. They don’t have to have 3 hours to have the office responsible for Katsafe send an alert saying: Lock-down- do not go onto campus, etc. The police stabilize the situa…See More

    Joey Stewart MAYBE SHSU did not tell anyone, because of how stupid this issue was and did not wanna start a bigger issue over nothing! KatSafe DOES work. I got a message telling me what was going on as well as after. YES it was an hour late (maybe they stopped it at that time), but the message still got out. Just the person behind the program is a little slow. That is the problem (timing)

  • Angela Hawkins I heard it was an hour. Texts got sent at 4:05pm. That’s not 3 hours. And, god help a gunman who has to stand in the way of a mother (especially you, I know you…crazy). That situation would have been handled in 30 seconds when you beat the crap out them.

  • Troy Reynolds Ah, let them work themselves into a tizzy over the fact that they might possibly maybe one day be in danger. If they weren’t working up their blood pressure over that, it’d be something else that threatens the overly-developed sense of self-entitlement. If folks want to find danger at Sam, they should look to the nightclubs. LOL

  • Derrick W Johnson A SUCCESS?!?!? That was horrible. There was confusion and hysteria amongst the students that were on campus. What good is KATSAFE if they send us an e-mail almost 2 hours after the incident was resolved?! It’s horrible. A mass e-mail or text should have been sent out when this was going on. Everyone was going off of here-say! Tell it like it is, President Gibson; that was a epic fail. There is still a lot to be done with he KATSAFE. I hope that you get it fixed before the next time……….

  • Ryan Tucker I hope those idiots playing with nerd guns are seriously reprimanded. A lot of resources were wasted on this joke.

  • Angela Hawkins I don’t think it was a joke. They were playing a game. The retard that mistook at nerf gun for a glock 9 is the person that should be reprimanded.

  • Shelby Castecka ‎@ryan i dnt think anything is actually going to happen to them

  • Synamynn Miller ‎@derrick i hope there is no next time… real or fake

  • Amber Johnson Faust I heard the one of the nerf guns was painted and that was part of the confusion. Regardless, if they were going to be hosting a mass gun fight on campus, don’t you think they should have let campus pd or student activities know ahead of time? So stuff like this doesn’t happen?

  • Adam L Robinson In any situation where there is a threat deemed serious enough to lock down the campus, off campus students should be notified. It’s that simple. It’s not being nit-picky or unreasonable. It fits in with previous SHSU statements about campus security.

  • Andrew Wang One should never place too much trust in the government. Bottom line.

  • Mandi Minor With all the real shootings going on I believe that these idiots should be expelled college is a place fir mature adults to learn not for little kids to be playing with guns!!!!!

  • Dyane Bates I have to agree it is sad that facebook is how everyone heard and not KATsafe. I thought our failed code maroon last year was bad….

  • Rocky Requejo This is kind of funny cause in one of my cj classes we were just talking about the difference between a real gun and a toy gun as a deadly weapon. Some of y’all should like..I dunno, calm down or something. Airsoft and/or nerf don’t kill people.

  • Victor Ignatiev I am glad that it was nothing serious but what the heck Nerf Guns really.

  • Andrea Brendzel Herrera

  • Ok, expelled? For playing with nerf guns?? Do y’all realize that this game has been going on for more than TWENTY years at university campuses all over the USA? My neighbor played it at Hofstra in NY twenty years ago. They are currently pla…See More

    Troy Reynolds If we ban all nerf guns, only criminals will have them. You can have my nerf gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hand with the ring pop on it.

  • Margaret Manegre-Offill It is absolutely reasonable to expect a system to work properly when it is needed. The warning test message comes through as scheduled monthly, so I would have assumed an authentic one would be handled the same way. Since that was not the case, this becomes an an opportunity for improvement. My intro to this was "Oh, before you hear it on the news…"

  • Dyane Bates Given the events at Texas University just a few weeks ago, what IQ level do you think was required to pull so stupid a stunt as this STUPID IMMATURE game on a college campus that already has a rep as a toy college? Come one Kats… really???

  • Troy Reynolds ‎@diane…since more than half of my staff is Bearkats, and districts tend to prefer SHSU alumni, perhaps "toy college" is an exaggeration?

  • Kolby Flowers SHSU students, please participate in The Houstonian’s online poll regarding timely notification at

  • rocky Requejo Maybe katsafe didn’t send out a message because toy guns aren’t an emergency to begin with. Just sayin..

  • Paul Tow KatSafe was an abysmal failure. Absolutely unacceptable.

  • Kaila Neeley Williams Ok, first off who cares if these kids were playing with nerf guns. Its a way to let off steam and destress from a crazy college schedule. Its better than going out drinking or doing drugs. 2, what idiot can’t tell the difference between a toy and a real gun?!

  • Tessa Lacox Lane Remember guys…can’t spell stupid without upd!

  • Michelle Figueroa yeah i got the kat safe msg an hour later… nice.

  • Aarti Sharma Without a doubt this experience was scary. Not that I wish for it but i hope next time, things are handled much better than today.

  • Brandy Shantell Jones

  • honestly about the situation sam houston failed to notify everyone on and off campus of the situation. Many people only knew from hearsay and facebook. My teacher had told our class and honestly i thought it was a joke because everything wa…See More

    Megan McDonald well considering i never got an email or txt id say the katsafe system is an epic fail

  • Andrew Wang Okay, Kat Safe sucks. We’ve established that. Moving on…

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