Western Illinois University students have mixed feelings returning to class after on-campus shooting

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MACOMB, Ill. (WMBD) — Western Illinois University’s campus was virtually deserted Wednesday after an on-campus shooting Tuesday evening led to a temporary closure.

However, Thursday morning, the campus was once again flooded with foot-traffic and book bags as students returned to class.

The reopening comes only two days after police said freshman Kavion Poplous, 18, shot his roommate in their Thomspons Hall dorm after a “dispute” and fled the area.

Students walking to class Thursday morning recalled the event and its impact on campus.

“I was like four floors above, so it’s kind of still nerve-wracking,” Rodrigo Miramontes, freshman, said. “It feels just a bit unsafe and uneasy.”

“I do know a lot of students were pretty shaken-up about it,” Sophomore Olivia Brinker said. “A lot of them have gone home. I’ve seen a lot of empty spaces in Thompson’s parking lot.”

“I am shaken up because it’s like you guys really brought a gun on campus in Macomb,” Sophomore Destiny Clark said.

Brinker said she was offered some relief after Poplous turned himself in at a Chicago Police Department (CPD) precinct Wednesday afternoon.

“I definitely feel better now that he has turned himself in,” Brinker said.

While some students said they felt better after learning Poplous was no longer on the loose, the idea of going back to class so soon had mixed reactions.

“It’s kind of hard going back to class knowing that there was a shooting two days ago,” Miramontes said. “It feels unsafe for some people and some people probably aren’t still processing it right.”

“I think it’s a good idea to go back to classes,” Brinker said.

Miramontes said some students may need a little bit more time to get over the initial shock that someone was shot on campus.

“This is a university and I feel like every student should be feeling safe because this is like a second home,” Miramontes said. “I feel like we should take this week off personally.”

Clark, on the other hand, said resuming classes on Thursday was a good idea for scheduling reasons.

“I feel like classes should start again today just so we don’t get off track and we can also end the school year at the same pace,” Clark said.

While many disagreed on when to return to class, most said the university should implement more safety measures on campus.

“The fact the he was able to bring a firearm to school is still shocking,” Miramontes said.

“There’s no way y’all [administration] let this man get passed y’all with a gun,” Clark said. “Maybe they could install metal detectors.”

University spokesperson Darcie Shinberger said WIU is a weapons-free campus and they’ve had safety policies in place for years. She said they’ll be reviewing policies and protocols in debriefings in the weeks to come.

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