CCU security efforts increase in year after fatal shooting

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It has now been one year since the deadly shooting near Coastal Carolina University's campus. The death of student Anthony Liddell really put the spotlight on school safety efforts. Since the event, CCU Police have been working to educate students on the importance of safety.

Chief David Roper says they are trying to keep what they call "undesirables" off campus grounds.

"They seem to be causing most of our problems here," explained Roper. "People who don't even go to school here. Our students come to school here, and they want a safe environment where they can live."

This is an especially important goal after the University Place campus housing became a crime scene last year. Last February, CCU residential halls went on lockdown after several 9-1-1 calls reporting a student had been shot. Sophomore student Anthony Liddell was shot three times, and the 19-year-old died at the hospital. It took law enforcement agencies several days to find the two suspects they believed to be responsible: 20-year-old Marquis Mcdonald and 22-year-old Stephon McClain, Junior, who were not enrolled CCU students.

It was an unfortunate student death that CCU police officers want to make sure doesn't happen again. Roper says they are telling students to be careful of who they invite on campus, and also letting them know the best ways to be watchful of their surroundings.

"We're proactive," said Roper. "We're trying not to sit back and wait for a problem, we're trying to hit it, eliminate it before it gets here."

The solicitors office says the trial date for the two suspects accused of murder has not been set yet. Roper says police have been working on security efforts even before the incident happened, and it's not just about education.

The University has also undergone big security changes. The entire campus now has more than 500 security cameras recording 24 hours a day. These cameras are spread out all over public areas and residential halls, and police say they have already helped to solve more than 15 thefts. The CCU Public Safety Department is even thinking ahead: there are several large buildings under construction, and those buildings are being put together with the necessary wiring for more cameras and classroom door locks.

Roper says the department has to function like it's protecting a small city, since it covers Coastal Carolina University and all the Horry Georgetown Tech campuses across the Grand Strand, which total about 20,000 people. Security is an always-evolving process, Roper says.

"It's just constant things," said Roper. "Constantly, every day, and the way Coastal Carolina is going, it's tough to try to keep up with things, but we're doing it. We're working hard to do that."

By next year, Roper hopes to have an audible alert system to notify students. It will work like a tornado siren, and play messages to give the latest information in emergency situations. Right now, there are more than 100 people working at the Department of Public Safety, and more than 40 trained officers on the force.

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