By Luz Hernandez |Staff Writer|
A 38-year-old Cal State San Bernardino graduate student was shot and killed by campus police on Dec. 8.
Bartholomew Williams died during an altercation with campus police, just after the CSUSB Commencement Ceremonies.
The tragedy has left students, faculty and staff at CSUSB in shock.
University officials have been holding open forums for members of our university community to express their sentiments and concerns regarding the shooting.
They began having these forums in December shortly after the tragedy occurred.
The goal of these forums is to keep an open line of communication between the university community and university officials regarding the situation.
Last week they held three open forums (Monday Jan. 14, Tuesday Jan. 15 and Thursday Jan. 17) at the Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center.
On the forum panel were President Tomas Morales, CSUSB Chief of Police Jimmie Brown, Dr. Terry Schmitt, Associate Director of Student Health and Psychological Counseling and Dr. Beth Jaworski, a Learning Disability Specialist.
In his opening statement at the forum held on Jan. 15 at 5 p.m., President Morales addressed his sorrow to the Williams family, and to those involved in the tragedy. He talked about meeting with Williams’ father, Dr. Paul Williams, describing the meeting as difficult.
“He comforted me,” said President Morales.
CSUSB Chief of Police Brown made an attempt to answer questions regarding the incident. Since the investigation is being conducted by Cal State San Bernardino Police, he explained that there is not much that he can answer regarding the matter.
“One thing about my job is that I’d like to keep the investigation fair, impartial and not biased,” said Brown.
One of the main concerns regarding the altercation was whether the campus police officer’s actions were appropriate. President Morales explained that the tragedy was not only hard for the student and families involved, but also hard on the officers as well.
They are trying to understand what led the officers to shoot Williams and why they were not able to use other means to take control of the situation.
Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Jaworski spoke on behalf of the Psychology Department and the Department of Students with Disabilities.
It is a known fact that Williams suffered from a chronic mental illness.
Students have expressed their sentiments regarding the University allowing a student with a mental illness to live on campus.
Dr. Jaworski explained that information about students with disabilities is held confidential.
It was also stated at the forum that excluding Williams or any other student with a mental or physical disability from attending the university, or living on campus is against the law.
In order to avoid any further tragedy, President Morales has made himself available to students through our Ombuds Office.
The Ombuds Office is located at the Santos Manuel Student Union. Dr. Schmitt and Dr. Jaworski have also made themselves available to any student who needs counseling regarding the situation, or any other problem in general.
The CSUSB officials, including Police Chief Brown, would like to comfort anyone who has been affected and work with our community to avoid any more tragedies.