Doesn’t take much to instigate a fight in New York City but encouragement from a hallowed academic institution over text is probably a first. Shots were fired late morning this past Tuesday, Oct. 4 in Brooklyn around Bridge Street and Metrotech Center—and nearby NYU’s Downtown Brooklyn campus. Students, and generally anyone on the university’s alert system, received the following message: 

“NYU Alert-Report of (Shots Fired) near 2 MetroTech Center, BK. If you are in the area: Run, Hide, or Fight. Others stay away. Help is on the way.”

According to the NYPD, police arrived at the scene after a 911 call reporting the shots. After canvassing the area, they confirmed there were no possible victims present but did find shell casings. No property was reported damaged.

While some students expressed frustrations on social media over the text’s dramatic use of active shooter language for seemingly victimless gunshots, Apoorv Singh, a Ph.D. student on the NYU Brooklyn campus, says he was desensitized to the alert.

“I’ve been in New York for one year and I’ve already seen two shootings,” he said. “So it’s pretty normal. I guess the only issue is that I was in the home when I got the text. So I didn’t think much of it except that, ‘Okay, I’m not going to office today.’”

NYU only uses the alert system for major ongoing incidents like fires, severe weather or active threats according to a school spokesperson. The university says the often-employed “Run, Hide, Fight” phrase is advocated widely by law enforcement agencies like the FBI and generally rolls off the tongue well. The school decided to send the alert after the reported gunshots due to the initial, unclear potential of an active shooter. 

Back in September 2021, a daytime shooting nearby the same NYU campus, which is home to the Tandon School of Engineering, left a student injured after a stray bullet hit him. While gun violence is slowing down in the colder months, there were also multiple high profile shootings in Harlem and Queens this week. Andre “AT” Mitchell, the city’s gun violence prevention czar, says there needs to be more collective work and responsibility.

“When we recognize and understand where the real power comes from within our community we will begin to collectively do our part to reduce senseless gun violence together,” he said. 
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting:

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