Campus life goes on while search for Ferris shooter continues

Although the search for the suspect involved in an early morning shooting near Ferris State University continued, an elevated police presence on campus appeared to alleviate fears.

At 4:15 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, Ferris and Big Rapids DPS responded to a reported shooting at Venlo Place Apartments. The victim, a Ferris student, is hospitalized.

Around noon, Ferris students milled around the Rock Café, one of two campus dining facilities, as usual. The mood was calm, even light. Students in one corner laughed and slapped each other on the backs as though it was just another normal day in Big Rapids.

“No, it’s the same as normal,” Ferris freshmen supply chain management major Leanne Leuthard said.

A Ferris DPS officer was posted at the Rock entrance and declined comment multiple times as per DPS policy. He did not know how long he would be remaining on guard at the Rock.

Students took to social media to reach friends that live in Venlo apartments and share news with fellow students.

“I actually got up early and heard my roommate on the phone talking about it,” Ferris sophomore health care systems administration major Lauren O’Brien said. “So, my immediate reaction was to Google it, and I found it on the Torch website.”

Ferris sophomore criminal justice major Abbey Jensen said she received a campus emergency alert text message at 7:16 a.m., three hours after the shooting.

Ferris head football coach Tony Annese, as well as assistant coaches Lou Esposito and Rob Zeitman, walked around greeting recruits for a pre-signing day visit.

Men’s head basketball coach Andy Bronkema, clad in his crimson team gear, sat at the island counter eating on what was supposed to be a home game day against Saginaw Valley State University.

The basketball and hockey games, as well as all other campus events, were cancelled for Feb. 1. The Rock Café and FLITE Library remained open, and the Student Recreational Center opened at noon for normal hours.

Ferris is providing counseling services for students impacted by the incident.

Merrill Hall resident adviser Remmil Duldulao has worked with the university to ensure the safety of his residents.

“All we had to do is, if anyone came to the desk, let them know, and let everyone know in the residence hall if they didn’t get the text message or the alert,” Duldulao said. “Everyone was a little worried. They were afraid to walk around campus. There are still people doing that though.”

Another RA from Ward Hall was wary but less concerned about the event.

“It’s one of things where you see it happening at other campuses,” Ferris sophomore marketing major Andrea Steenwyk said. “But you never think it’s going to happen here, but the fact that did happen off campus makes it a little bit of a different situation.”

Ferris sophomore music industry management major Neal Cortright was returning from a night out around the time of the shooting but felt completely at ease.

“We found out it was at 4:15 a.m.,” he said. “We were just getting back around that time to our dorm. I feel safe on campus.”

Torch staff members Lindsey Hogan, Taylor Hooper and Ben Rettinhouse contributed to this story.