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EPCC Police Explain Response to the Cielo Vista Shooting

BY MAXIMILIANO PALACIOS


El Paso Community College Police Department reacted to the shooting between a 16-year-old male and a 32-year-old man at Cielo Vista Mall on February 15 by asking the Campus Community for Valle Verde and the Administrative Services Center to shelter in place – 50 minutes after the shooting occurred.


According to a press release by the El Paso Police Department, the shooting occurred at the Cielo Vista Mall food court, when a fight broke out between two groups of teenagers.

When the fight occurred, the 16-year-old male took out a gun and shot and killed 17-year-old Angeles Zaragoza, and seriously injured a 17-year-old male. In the shooting, a 20-year-old man was also shot.


Lt. Michael Guzman


After the shooting, the suspect ran and pointed the gun toward bystanders, including 32-year-old Emanuel Duran, who had a license to carry. Duran shot the suspect as the 16-year-old ran toward him.


El Paso Police Officers received the first reports of a shooting at 5:05 p.m. but EPCC students and faculty received a Tejano Alert text message 50 minutes later at around 5:56 p.m.

El Paso Community College Police Lt. Michael Guzman said before they send out a Tejano Alert, they must be alerted by the fusion center, which is operated by law enforcement agencies and government entities in the United States.

“So, they're the ones that receive their information firsthand so, depending on where the situation is, then we start getting emails, notifications of what's happening and where it's happening.” Guzman said “Then at that point, what we do is we notify our command staff, meaning the Chief of Police and other lieutenants.”


From there the college’s police notifies the emergency manager, who in turn is in contact with the Emergency Contact Center for the city.

“At that point, we start contacting dispatch, dispatch starts getting information as far as what's happening, where is it at,” Guzman said. “At that point, we determine, okay, where is it happening? Is it close to the college? Is the college going to get affected? And if so, then we start. But before we send any Tejano Alerts, we have to make sure that we get the information from whoever is handling that situation.”


Guzman said every precaution must be taken before putting out an alert to evacuate 3,000 college students, faculty and staff or ordering them to shelter in place.

On Feb. 15, students, staff and faculty members were notified that the shelter-in-place order had ended through another Tejano Alert at about 9:23 p.m. said Detective Adalberto Soto.

“By the time they said everything was normal it was about 9:30-10 but, before that it was still shelter in place and we were letting people out, one by one,” he said. “It took about four hours, just because the suspect was at large.”

EPCC offers in-service training courses that include Active Shooter response.


Detective Adalberto Soto


According to the EPCC catalogue and website, the training presents aspects relating to responding to an active shooter scenario. A study of past active shooter situation is reviewed and analyzed.


Additionally, the course presents first responder, individual and team tactics and other important safety skills. Staff and faculty may request active shooter training and security awareness training by contacting the El Paso Community College Police at (915) 831-2200.

Other measures the college officials have is posted signs in classrooms and around the campuses that provide instructions on what everyone should do in the event of an active shooter:

  1. Call EPCC Police at (915) 831-2200 or 911.

  2. If able, run and exit the building immediately and get as far away as possible.

  3. If you cannot run, hide and shelter in place by:

    1. Locking the door

    2. Barricading the door with heavy furniture

    3. Turning off the lights

    4. Silencing your cell phone

  4. As a last resort, defend yourself any way possible.

  5. Further information/instructions will be sent to you via the Tejano Alert System.

Remember: AVOID. DENY, DEFEND


For more information on the Tejano Alert you can visit the website: https://www.epcc.edu/Services/Police/tejano-aler

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