NACOGDOCHES, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — Police at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches are investigating after a Black cheerleader says police stormed into her dorm room with guns drawn after receiving a false report.
During a press conference on Monday, attorneys for 17-year-old Christin Evans claimed the incident, known as ‘swatting,’ was spearheaded by her three roommates and seven other girls — who she said were mostly White. Swatting is a term used when people call people and make false claims against someone in an attempt to harass or bring harm to them.
The roommates reportedly told their resident assistant (RA) that Evans had scissors and was threatening to hurt them, which resulted in police being called. Evans said she was awoken around 3 a.m. on September 14 when police officers burst into her room with their guns drawn.
The teenager was cleared of any wrongdoing, but now says returning to campus is difficult.
“I was looking forward to making friends and having a good time on the cheer team. But since this happened, it’s made it really really really hard,” Evans said as she wiped away tears. “I feel shaken. I don’t even know how to think. I can’t sleep at night because of this.”
The Chief of the university police department issued a statement that said:
“The university is investigating a racially diverse group of students in an incident involving a false report to the university police department. The students responsible will be held accountable for their actions at every possible level.”
A message from John Fields, chief of police for SFA’s University Police Department: pic.twitter.com/yEOG65f2Vc
— Stephen F. Austin State University (@SFASU) September 28, 2020
In an update on Wednesday, Fields said officers had behaved appropriately and did not storm her dorm room. He said a roommate let the responding officers in.
“Only one officer had a weapon on holster… no lights in the room, he had a light on his weapon. At no time was he intentionally trying to point at the subject,” Fields said. “Once they found Ms. Evans in bed, the threat was de-escalated. At no time was there any time that the officers were unprofessional in dealing with Ms. Evans.”
Evans has since moved out of the dorm, but is still taking classes at the university.
University officials said police are investigating the false report and said the students responsible will be held accountable.
SFA President Dr. Scott Gordon said the matter is being taken seriously, but urged the public to withhold judgement until the investigation is complete.
A message from President Scott Gordon: pic.twitter.com/inkobxnivs
— Stephen F. Austin State University (@SFASU) September 29, 2020
He issued a statement that said, in part:
“I have directed staff to be thorough and keep me apprised throughout this investigation. Each perpetrator will be dealt with appropriately. My heart goes out to the young lady who was an innocent victim in this matter. We will do all we can to support her and her family through this heinous ordeal. We will not have this at SFA!”
Attorneys for Evans are calling on police to charge the “gang” with a crime and warned that if something isn’t done, incidents like the one their client experienced could happen again.