… at the University of Southern California, a well-heeled school near some dangerous neighborhoods.

In April alone two students were murdered not far from campus, and a few days after that, a campus security guard shot and wounded a man who’d just robbed two students.

Last night, at an on-campus Halloween party hosted by a USC student organization, two men (neither a student) got into a fight, and four people were shot, one critically.

As the story develops, we’ll want to know about security at the party. Did students need to show identification cards? Were campus police around?

The story has – hours after the shootings – already received big national and international coverage.

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UPDATE: These details can’t yet be confirmed, but a campus blogger describes the party as free for USC students and open to non-students for a fee. If so, given recent events, that was a really stupid decision on someone’s part.

The scene was apparently one of mayhem, with panicked crowds running from gunshots.

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From an interview moments after the shootings, with a student who witnessed the events:

I still don’t believe it happened. I definitely don’t believe it happened. It did not in the least occur to me that it was real. Why would it be real?

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Tweets. “I need a bullet-proof vest for school.”

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How Not to Do Damage Control:

1. Call it an “isolated incident” when everyone can see that it’s more of a culminating incident, with crime getting closer and closer to campus over the last few months.

2. Assure people that “campus security was monitoring the party, witnessed the shooting and was able to quickly apprehend the suspects.” What a comfort. They were standing around and watching.

According to reports, the crowd had grown dangerously large. Was campus security simply monitoring this? Why did they let the crowd get so large?

3. Don’t say “This incident reminds us that we must look out for ourselves and be particularly vigilant about the personal safety of friends and guests at our social events. … We all play an important role in ensuring a safe campus.” The words for this statement are insipid and smug. The spokesperson should have begun by noting how frightening this event was, and how totally unacceptable. He should then have announced a change in USC’s idiotic policy:

[C]ampus policy requires that student parties be open only to guests with student IDs from USC or another university.

Huh? Anyone, given recent events, could have seen that neighborhood violence was encroaching on campus. To have so open a policy is asking for trouble.

The president of the university needs to hold a news conference and announce new security policies.

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