The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey /
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

City College President Kathryn Jeffery reflects on campus shooting
City College President Kathryn Jeffery answers questions the day after the Sept. 3 on-campus shooting from FOX40 reporter Ali Wolf. Vanessa Nelson | Photo Editor | [email protected]

Since Roman Gonzalez was fatally shot on campus, Sacramento City College President Kathryn Jeffery and her staff have been at the forefront of unraveling the causes and repercussions of not only the shooting itself, but also reviewing campus response to the incident.

News Editor Vienna Montague interviewed Jeffery in her office Tuesday, Sept. 8, about her thoughts and experiences the day of the shooting and what City College has learned in its wake.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and space. 

Vienna Montague: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us.

Kathryn Jeffery: I got a message that you guys, with the paper, were working all through the night to try to carry the story [of the shooting], and through the weekend and ,I’m thinking it’s important for the broader college community to know, in order to carry the story internally and to tell a balanced story, that we have a student crew who is working and talking with other students…

In somebody’s immediate area, they think that only their staff were the ones who kind of stepped out and helped. They don’t realize that the same thing was being repeated in multiple ways all over the campus. And that is what happened. In fact, that worked better than the warning system.

It’s interesting how that worked, because a lot of information was very scattered, which, of course, it is going to be in the very beginning.

That’s right. For so many people to just quickly move into action, to do what they could where they were, not really knowing what was going on and what was happening in other parts of campus, was really great…

Here’s the other thing that I want you to know: As we were going to students face to face, identifying ourselves… where we told people who we were: “Hello, my name is Kathryn Jeffery. We’ve had an emergency. I need you to move quickly to a place of safety. There has been a shooting. Please come with me quickly.”

People were standing, looking at me like… I hadn’t said anything. So even to try to activate people where they were, and move them quickly, was really a chore. If someone comes up and they identify themselves, there’s something [pause]… People need to pay attention to that.

I was talking to [Vice President of Student Services] Michael Poindexter and he was saying that the problem, partially, of course, was that the students weren’t moving quickly enough to where everyone needed them to go because for some of the students, it was as if they had dealt with this thing before, so it was no big deal.

If we don’t know if shots potentially could be coming in this direction, do you really want to stand around and ask questions? That’s the part that really got to me.

Are there any changes that will be made after reviewing this?

There will be a number of changes. There will have to be. I’m learning from some of the faculty that even as they got the notifications, if you’re teaching a class, you don’t have this [gesturing to phone] next to you.

I mean, it seemed at the time like a real good plan: You get an email. You get a text message. You get a voicemail message. It goes to the website. Well, unless you’re somebody where you’re reading all that and [pause]… It works when it works. And for some people, they got the messages.

I know that some of the faculty that we have spoken with talked about the inability to lock the doors, the outside doors to the building. Is there a policy with that? Because it could go really either way: Are you keeping a bad guy out or preventing a good guy from coming in, seeking shelter?

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We got a lot of things to debrief here. Around the communication protocols, the overall warning system, which we will certainly take a deep look at that. And then the notifications on the front end as well as notifications on the back end, because once you start an event, how do you end it?

I believe there was an issue with the website at that point, actually. The lockdown. It was on the website that there was a lockdown. But after everyone had been evacuated and cleared, the website still said we were on lockdown for quite some time.

So the evacuation notice didn’t get up. At that point, in fact, I’m thinking back in my head what happened, Rick [Brewer], our public information officer, got involved with one phone call after another of somebody calling for information, so he got caught in the information dissemination, when he’s actually one of our people who would help post the all-clear. So we’ve got to look through this a little bit…

I think people were trying to do the right things in terms of communicating. This can be very instructive for us all. A lot of things we can learn about what went well because there were a number of things that did go well.

There were a number of things that certainly could go better. We’ve got to look at our warning system. And we’ve got to ask people to hold themselves accountable for responding when they get information. When they get information that can help make them more secure and others more secure, they have to pay attention.

I’m told that [an active shooter situation] is what made students apprehensive. They [the students] didn’t know whether [the shooting] was an isolated incident — in this case it was — versus some sort of mass shooting.

Regretfully, this is a reflection of the kinds of things that are happening in our society today. It could happen at a movie theater. It could happen at an elementary school. It could happen at a junior high school or college, and it has. It also could happen when you’re driving on a freeway, and has… daycare centers… it’s just very regretfully part of the uncertainty of things that can occur in our society.

The fact [is] that the intrusion on the individual space, [by] these four individuals, intrudes on the space of all of us here at the college, and the repercussions ripple out. We’re having to deal with, not in all cases, someone who is responding to this situation. They may have had an incident occur in their life where someone was shot, where they were shot or were a witness of a violent crime. It triggers that for them. It takes them right back in that moment, and then this incident connects with that.

I was somewhere last year and saw someone get shot, and I was just visiting a neighbor. I looked up and heard the gunshots, then I saw the person drop into the yard next door, and I’m looking through the front door and I’m going, “How did I get… wait… what?” So things can happen.

I was in Oklahoma City at home visiting family and friends and went back to the old neighborhood. I didn’t know the neighborhood had shifted the way that it had over the years I’d been gone. I’m thinking I’m visiting this 90-year-old woman ,my old piano teacher, and everything’s a cool day, everything’s fine. All of a sudden, the gunshots rang out, and I see the person fall on the ground, because I could see him through her open front door. We were sitting in her living room. And then she goes to the front door trying to see what’s going on, and I’m like, “Get away from that door!” and I’m closing her door… I’m taking over her house because I’m trying to keep her safe. I don’t know what else is going on out there; somebody might try to run up to her door to try and run in her house because they see the open door. It’s just the kind of crazy thing that can happen.

When did you finally leave campus the day of the shooting?

My car ended up behind the police… yellow tape for hours. By the time I left campus, they had actually cleared the scene of the fallen person. Roman Gonzales had been taken away. Police had pretty much cleared the scene, with the exception of a few people. I was here till after 1 o’clock that night, sitting in the parking lot in my car just trying to see what was going on to see if anybody would give me a little tidbit of information so that I could update the campus community. There wasn’t much coming at that point. I think I learned that the second student, Rico Ridgeway, had been arrested.

Is there anything else you would like add?

Sacramento City College is place where students come to gain knowledge that in some way will help them have a better life at some point in time.

Our goal is to ensure that this environment continues to be one where students know when they come here, that they are going to be able to access their education in a way that is non-threatening for them, that is safe for them. And it gives them kind of that freedom to really enjoy the learning experience.

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