New CSUN Security Measures Fail : Violence: Gunfire erupts in a dormitory parking lot after police shut down a rowdy dance. Changes were made after a similar incident in February.
New security procedures instituted in the wake of a violent Cal State Northridge party in February failed to prevent a similar occurrence over the weekend when gunfire erupted in the midst of about 200 people who gathered in a dormitory parking lot after tear-gas-wielding police shut down a rowdy dance.
CSUN officials are now re-examining the new procedures, such as using metal detectors at the dance entrance. The procedures were tested for the first time Friday night at a widely publicized dance sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
“Frankly, we’re going to review how we deal with the situation or if it’s even possible in this day and age to hold this type of event,” Fred Strache, CSUN’s associate vice president for student programs, said Sunday.
The dance was the first large social event held in the University Student Union since February, when campus authorities and Los Angeles police shut down a party that was attended by more than 1,000 people and marred by fights.
University officials had suspended such functions until a new policy to beef up security measures could be hammered out.
Following the new policy, campus police Friday night confined entry to one door, allowed only students with proper identification to enter, restricted the number of guests to one person per student and waved metal-detecting wands over each entrant.
Campus Police Chief Stanley D. Friedman said members of his staff were on guard for disturbances because they knew that the dance would attract a huge crowd.
“If history is an indicator of the present, we anticipated there would be some problems,” he said. “We’ve had prior dances with these fraternities. . . . Quite a few of them--I’d say 50%--had to be closed down before they were scheduled to close.”
Friedman said no weapons were found at the door Friday night, but the crowd of about 600 people--some who came from as far away as Long Beach--overwhelmed the four officers and four student volunteers deployed by Friedman to staff the event.
“It had gotten out of control,” Friedman said. About 150 to 200 people “legitimately paid to get in, and approximately 400 to 500 people outside the dance were . . . trying to force their way in.”
Campus police sprayed an area outside the student union with Mace, a tear-gas spray, to discourage the crowds pressing to enter, Friedman said. But officers shut down the party completely when people continued to try to push their way inside. The Los Angeles Police Department sent 10 units and a helicopter to help disperse the crowd.
The pandemonium at the party was followed by a pair of shootings outside two dorms across campus from the student union, where people had gathered after the dance was broken up. Several rounds of gunfire sounded about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, campus police said. Minutes later, a few more shots were fired in the same area outside Southernwood and Burdock halls.
No one was injured.
Authorities arrested a 23-year-old Pasadena man, Ferris T. Valentine, in connection with the first shooting as he drove away from the area, Friedman said. A videotape of the shooting made by a campus police dispatcher shows a man believed to be Valentine firing a gun, Friedman said.
Videotapes are routinely used by campus police when they expect problems, Friedman said.
Valentine, who is not a CSUN student, allegedly fired at two men who narrowly missed being hit by Valentine’s car as he backed out of the lot. After he drove north on Lindley Avenue, two or three more shots rang out in the parking lot area, Friedman said. Authorities do not know the origin of the second set of shots, but said they were not fired by Valentine.
Valentine was booked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Van Nuys Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He was released later on $15,630 bail.
CSUN’s Strache said it is difficult to keep people from congregating around the dorms because CSUN is a fairly open campus.
“I’m not sure what we could do. There are so many entrances to the campus,” he said. “We’d thought we’d come up with a plan for dances . . . but we still have to deal with the parking lot and the aftermath and people cruising the dorms.”
Strache added that plans are under way to erect gates around the dormitory areas. In revamping their procedures, officials will also take cues from the measures employed at major concerts to lessen chaos created by the flood of people as they move to the parking lots and their cars, he said.
Neighbors of CSUN have increasingly complained of excessive noise, litter and traffic problems, especially on weekends.