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Active Shooter Scare Near Campus

All hearts on campus stopped on the evening of Thursday, February 18th, 2021. Students sheltered in place, took cover, and prepared to fight back if hiding was not an option. A blanket of fear swaddled campus as Beloit College security shot out emails and texts, alerting everyone that there was an active shooter on or near campus. Students began to call their parents, alerting them of the looming threat. In an era characterized by mass shootings, we students are knowledgeable when it comes to taking cover and staying safe in these horrifying scenarios. 

Fortunately, as the night progressed, it became clear that no one on campus was in danger. Rather, the perpetrator was near campus, not on it. As students listened in to police scanners and online crime watch broadcasts, many anxieties were relieved when it was disclosed that no shots had been fired. Through the evening, many students stayed tuned for updates, filling their peers in on what was being disclosed to the public regarding the ongoing situation. It is a blessing that we live in an era where cell phones are commonplace, as it is through these very devices that security was able to speedily convey their knowledge about the threat and keep everyone on campus updated. Students were also able to communicate through parents and friends via text messages and social media platforms.

The lockdown was put into effect sometime around 7:30pm, and was not lifted until about 11pm when the perpetrator was taken into police custody. It did not take long for the truth surrounding the situation to reach the public. The man thought to be the ‘active shooter’ was identified as Ladale M. Johnson, a man from Madison, WI with a history of domestic violence. Police were called when Johnson threatened to kill a woman — presumably a girlfriend of his — in Madison.

 A high-speed chase ensued, with Johnson leading officers through Janesville and Beloit, where the chase came to an abrupt end when Johnson took off on foot. Eventually, Johnson barricaded himself inside of a garage near the 700 block of Park Avenue in Beloit, which hugs our campus. It was here that police and SWAT were able to lure the man out and take him into custody. Upon apprehension, Johnson has been charged for fleeing an officer, possession of marijuana, bail jumping, disorderly conduct, unlawful phone use (making threats), and reckless endangering. Johnson is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on March 1st.

The students of Beloit College did their part to stay safe — thank you, all! It is always a challenge to remain calm during these situations, but students did a good job making sure that everyone was alright by checking in with peers via text and social media. It is unfortunate that our generation is so familiar with scares like these. This active shooter scare was an unfortunately sobering experience for everyone, and I do hope that we as a college community will continue to take dangerous situations like these seriously and do everything we can to make sure we stay smart and safe during them.

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