UW officials say alert system worked during Wed. night's emergency

MADISON (WITI) -- University of Wisconsin officials say its system through which it alerts students of emergencies worked on Wednesday night, September 18th, when officials sent out a mass emergency message to students after shots were fired near campus. Students say they appreciated the alert, and officials say it worked so well, the program will likely be expanded.

UW police say 92,000 students, faculty members and UW employees were notified of the incident through their phones, email or social networking.

This, as police searched for suspects after receiving a report of shots fired near campus.

"One of my sorority sisters was walking home from lacrosse practice and she heart shots fired right behind there and ran into the house," Rachel Van Doorn said.

Madison police say a drug deal turned into a robbery. The gunman fired at least one round, and then ran towards campus, when friends of the robbery victim gave chase.

Immediately, texts and email alerts went out to students, notifying them of the situation, and encouraging them to stay indoors.

"I think it's really smart because I was in a meeting for one of my clubs and a few other girls I know were just down the road right where everything was going on and where the shooter was running towards and then immediately everyone at the meeting knew what was going on and could lock everything down quickly," Van Doorn said.

UW police caught one suspect, and Madison police captured another. Both are 17 years old.

"We've seen unfortunately over the years what can happen at universities, at government agencies, what happened in D.C. earlier this week. We just need to inform people and keep them involved in the situation,"

An email went out to UW-Madison parents on Thursday, alerting them to the situation.

UW police say their text and email alert system works so well, they will try to expand it next year.

Right now, students register to get the texts, and next year, they will be automatically registered and must opt-out if they would not like to see the alerts.

The Wisc Alert System has been at UW since 2008. Other UW System schools have similar alerts in case of an emergency.