Incident took place at around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning while student slept
A bullet tore through a window into a University of Ottawa highrise residence building in the early hours of Sunday morning, hurting no one but sending ripples of panic across the floor and sparking confusion over a delayed public response from the university.
Izzy Mitchell, a first-year history student who lives on the ninth floor of the 90U residence, said she woke up in her room to the sound of shattering glass at around 3 a.m.
Jet-lagged from a trip over reading week, Mitchell said she didn’t fully take in what had happened until she got out of bed to study a few hours later and saw a burn mark on her curtain. That’s when she turned around and noticed a black ricochet mark on the ceiling above her bed and the lone bullet lodged into her wall.
Mitchell went down to the residence front desk for help, where both the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) and Protection Services were called to the scene. Mitchell was temporarily moved to Thompson residence until repairs to her room were completed and has since returned.
OPS Const. Chuck Benoit confirmed a call was received just after 6:30 a.m. on Sunday and said the guns and gangs unit is now investigating. Benoit said there are no suspects at this time and arrests have not been made. He could not release information on the type of weapon used.
“I think I was in shock for the first day after it happened because I really wasn’t that upset about it,” Mitchell told the Fulcrum in an interview. “It doesn’t really bother me until it gets dark out.”
Both Housing Services and Protection Services directed requests for comment to the university’s media relations team.
“The U of O is collaborating with the OPS on an investigation of a single gunshot that hit one of its residences early Sunday morning,” the university said in a press release published Wednesday after the Fulcrum requested comment.
“The resident of the room has been provided with support and counselling services from the university. The safety and security of the campus remain the university’s top priority.”
Mitchell credits a number of branches of the university for supporting her in the aftermath of the incident, helping her defer midterms and access counselling, but said she understands why others on her floor are upset.
“No one on my floor is unfair to wish that the university did something or even be upset, but I don’t really know who’s at fault,” said Mitchell.
On Tuesday evening, some students on the floor questioned why the university and Housing Services had yet to release information or address the residents directly, nearly three days after the incident. According to students who live on the floor, there has been no floor meeting or visit from Housing Services to address what happened either, but one is in the works.
“Safety should be more of a concern and I hope that the university puts out a public statement,” said Nolan Bernier, a first-year finance student who lives next door to Mitchell.
Bernier said he was up late studying when he heard the gunshot. He guessed it might have been caused by a car accident but thought twice when he saw police outside Mitchell’s room the next morning, along with the photos of the cracked window in the floor’s group chat the next morning.
“I just would like information and if there’s actually a safety danger, give us a different room for a week or until they figure it out,” said Bernier.
“I had to find out through a group chat (message) from the girl who almost got shot,” said Meagan Heard, a first-year nursing student who lives down the hall from Mitchell. Heard also raised concerns over the lack of support from the university for other students on the floor.
“If you have any sort of like trauma associated with guns, (the incident) could be triggering,” said Heard. “It’s still scary to all of us, I think because we’re now like, ‘Wow, that could have happened to one of us.’ ”
“There’s a general sort of feeling of unrest (on the floor),” said Cameron Montague, a first-year commerce student. “I’ve received communication from the residence team related to monthly events, but I’m surprised I’m getting notifications about ice cream and not a bullet coming through the window.”
Ethan Oliveira, Montague’s roommate, said mandatory counselling sessions for everyone on the floor might be a good step for the university to take going forward. “I guess if I was working for the school, I would want to make sure everyone on the floor feels OK.”
More to come.