KENT, Ohio - News of Wednesday night’s shooting on Kent State University’s campus spread quickly on social media, but local police said beware of posts as the situation unfolds, especially from unofficial sources.
“Sometimes, information that comes out first is not the best,” said Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver.
Brimfield is five miles from Kent. Oliver actively uses social media to post details about incidents, oftentimes within a half hour of that incident happening.
But he said social media takes a back seat to getting the truth out.
“In the middle of an incident, it’s very hard to update real-time because you have to concentrate on the issue at hand,” Oliver added. “A lot of people believe that because of social media, they’re going to know everything pretty quick or should know everything pretty quick.”
Kent State students Iyla Butler and Austin Kwisnek took to social media Wednesday night to find out what was happening on campus.
“I heard that the shooter was shooting everywhere,” said Butler, recalling social media posts that she read. “He was running all around campus.”
“The rumors I heard is that people had been shot and there was an armed gunman on campus,” said Kwisnek.
Kent State Police later issued a statement saying a freshman, 24-year-old Quavaugntay Tyler, pulled out a gun and accidentally shot himself in the hand during an argument with two women. He fired a single shot and is charged with carrying a concealed weapon.
“Everybody was posting about a shooting, but that was early on,” added Kwisnek. “No one knew it was a single shot.”
Oliver and other safety experts recommend people subscribe and follow social media accounts from official agencies like news outlets, police departments and universities.