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Residents and students react to Southpoint shooting

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian)

Residents of Southpoint Apartments and University of Massachusetts students say they are not overly concerned about a recurrence of violence following the shooting that occurred late Friday night at the Southpoint Apartments.

The incident took place on Oct. 14 in the apartment complex in Amherst, resulting in the murder of 31-year old resident Jose Rodriguez. The police believe the act was not random, and does not put the public at risk.

“I am disturbed by it…I try not to be, but I know I am more vulnerable than a younger person because I’m not as quick,” said Ann Sloan, a senior citizen and resident of the Southpoint Apartments, who became aware of the event on Monday morning. “Somebody’s carelessness endangered quite a few people’s lives and disrupted a whole lot of other people’s lives. I’m really bothered by…How do you make people understand that they are endangering other people’s lives? …I don’t know what the cause of that shooting was, but I can almost guarantee, it wasn’t worth taking another human being life.”

“Just to know that it happened in my apartment, it shocks me,” said Nan Wang, 33, a Southpoint resident living with her husband. Wang is not concerned with the safety of the apartment complex or any more possible shootings.

“I also think it’s a very safe place here and it’s a college town; most of the residents are students…[Some people] fight each other, I think that’s just their personal [business] and it is not a random shooting,” she added.

On Friday night, 39-year-old Southpoint resident spent the night with friends. Herrington remembered the apartment complex being quiet and empty when one of his friends left at around midnight. An hour later, when one of his other friends was leaving, Herrington was met by police lights and a Channel 22 News vehicle.

“It was kind of shocking,” he said. “Especially because within a few hours of finding out what had happened, I found out who it was [that got shot] and it’s somebody that I actually know.”

Herrington does not think that there should be much concern over safety in Southpoint, despite the closeness of the matter.

“It’s not like it was a random thing,” said Herrington. “It wasn’t like a drive-by, it was a very specific situation. I am not really concerned necessarily, but there’s always the possibility of repercussions from something like this.”

Herrington does express concern toward the safety of his son. Originally from Hartford, Connecticut, one of the reasons he left was to escape street violence. He thought that a small, quiet college town like Amherst would be a better place to raise his son.

“I have to explain it to him,” said Herrington. “And also being able to explain that this is a one in a million situation. It could have happened anywhere, it just happened to have happened here.”

Located about three miles from UMass, the Southpoint shooting raises safety concerns for some students.

“I was shocked to hear that a shooting occurred so close to campus. Though I’ve heard it’s an isolated incident, it is jarring nonetheless,” said Elaine Wall, a sophomore legal studies and hospitality and tourism management major.

“That kind of stuff does freak me out, because it’s never really good to hear about murders when you are going to school a few miles away,” said Austin Houghton, a junior resident assistant and nursing major. “But I think that UMass does a really good job of keeping us safe. I know, especially as an RA, we are trained to always overlook our residents and with the newly installed security systems, UMPD always has an eye out…I trust UMass enough, especially UMPD, to keep a watchful eye out on us.”

Hayley Johnson can be reached at hkjohnson@umass.edu. Danny Cordova can be reached at dcordova@umass.edu or followed on Twitter @DannyJCordova.

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