Lawsuits filed against TSU claim security concerns were ignored

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Lawsuits filed against TSU claim security concerns were ignored (KTRK)

There are safety concerns at Texas Southern University. The university faces not one, but two $1-million lawsuits saying the school ignored concerns brought by campus police.

"I lifted up my shirt and I had a bullet hole in my stomach," says Jordan Schott.

"I instantly didn't think I was gonna make it. I thought it was over for me."

Last October, Schott was leaving a poetry event at TSU with his new girlfriend, and their friends, when he was shot in the stomach and the side.

"It bothers me every day. I wake up and I thank God that I'm still alive."

Just a few weeks earlier, Lakeytrick Quinn was shot and killed on campus at the University Courtyard apartments.

"He saw a woman on campus being accosted, and he went to try to assist her and was shot in the head," attorney Joe Little said.

RELATED: Texas Southern University shooting: Police identify student victim
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The victim in the TSU shooting was identified by police today. Christine Dobbyn reports.

Little filed lawsuits against TSU on behalf of Quinn's mother and Jordan Schott. Both lawsuits seek monetary relief in excess of $1 million.

"These events, from our perspective, could have been prevented if TSU had responded appropriately to their own campus police officials," Little says.

In an August 2014 letter obtained by Eyewitness News, TSU Police Department staff sent a "Vote of No-Confidence" to then-President John Rudley with concerns about safety and security under their chief's leadership. The letter outlines worries about training for an active shooter situation on campus, and staffing levels.

"Now we are faced with beginning the fall semester with limited staff," read part of the letter.

"The fall semester is the busiest time of year for the university. There are sporting events, on-campus special events, and extracurricular activities such as Homecoming. This does not account for the safety needs of student housing. The level of stress and responsibility placed on the officers remaining with the department is insurmountable. We are set up to fail," the letter continues.

"The security alone wasn't as there as I felt it should be," Schott says.

We also obtained President Rudley's response from October 2014:

"Now, we are faced with a somewhat disgruntled group who apparently want the police chief to resign for reasons that I consider petty, and for reasons that are not within our plan for our campus security force," he wrote.

In that memo, Rudley detailed steps he'd taken to enhance security, as well as funding challenges. But he also did not agree to address the specific concerns of the officers.

"TSU ignored the concerns of its own first responders," says Little.

"Violent crime on TSUs campus was more than just foreseeable. It was virtually inevitable."

We reached out to former TSU President John Rudley.

He did not respond to ABC13's request for comment.

We reached out to TSU for an on-camera interview to address the lawsuit and steps the university has taken to address security concerns since the fall of 2015 when three shootings occurred on campus. Their response follows:

Unfortunately the University is not able to comment on pending legal matters.

Texas Southern University is committed to the safety our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus.

To that end we have:

1. completed a major lighting project that upgraded our exterior lighting along common areas and walkways with brighter LED lights (some 556 fixtures);

2. There has been increased patrol of student housing and other high volume student areas during peak times.

3. TSUPD has created a social media "See Something, Say Something" campaign to make students more aware of their surroundings and to be proactive and involved in ensuring their safety.

4. TSU has invested in the LiveSafe personal safety mobile app. TSU has made the app available to all TSU students, faculty, and staff to download for free. The app provides a quick, convenient, and discreet way to communicate directly with TSU safety officials, enhancing their overall safety and allows TSU Public Safety to better protect them.

5. TSUPD has received new more versatile body cameras.

6. TSUPD has attended several FBI training sessions this summer to enhance their policing skills.

7. TSU security personnel has invested in mobile segways to move from location to location faster and to secure the campus more efficiently.

8. We recently held our initial planned "Campus Lockdown" Drills to practice the most efficient way to help everyone stay safe in the case of emergencies.

9. Clearly posted signs to distinguish our many gun-free zones.

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