Written by Chaline Lobti
This past Friday on Dec. 2, a timely warning was sent out by Campus Safety to students, faculty, and staff members. The warning sought to alert the Colorado College community to stay vigilant about a suspicious male named Nathan Bethke, who had made threatening remarks towards staff.
Director of Campus Safety Maggie Santos, who is responsible for the security of the CC community and the safety of the Campus Safety employees, said that such notifications are meant to alert the CC community in real-time of a situation that is dangerous or potentially dangerous to students, faculty, and staff. The federal government also mandates that students, faculty, and staff be made aware of any threats to campus, whether it is a natural disaster, fire, or active assailant.
The decision on what poses a threat to the CC community is determined by Campus Safety. They will generally send out a warning about threats that are within a mile from campus. There are exceptions to this rule; for example, the Planned Parenthood shooting occurred approximately five miles away from campus.
Santos said a warning was sent out in this particular case because they “understood there are students working there [the Pike’s Peak library] and could potentially have worked there, so we sent out the information to say that, ‘if you’re going to that area, don’t.’” Despite there being an exact parameter for when the CC community needs to be notified when a threat occurs, generally a warning will be sent out even if the danger is beyond the guidelines—as long as campus safety feels that it poses a potential threat.
In the case of Bethke, Campus Safety had been aware of the threat on Nov. 21, when he first displayed signs of anger. However, a notification was not sent out at that time because he did not express anything that was actively threatening. According to Santos, Bethke had only expressed anger by screaming. When asked what could be done to alleviate the anger, he replied,“nothing.” He then proceeded to yell and scream before getting into his car and driving away.
Even though the warning was not sent out, campus security kept tabs on the suspect and caught him trespassing on campus that very same day. They did not send out a timely warning at the time because he did not make an active threat. Santos said that if Bethke had said something along the lines of, “I’m going to hurt someone” or “I hate everyone and I’m going to make sure you all die,” then a warning would have been sent out.
The warning was ultimately sent out on Friday, Dec. 2 because he had a golf club in hand and said, “‘I’m going to hurt someone,’” according to Santos. He then proceeded to swing the golf club. His words, along with his actions, created a threat to the CC community.
Bethke is currently in the custody of the Colorado Springs Police Department. If he is out on bail or being moved, Campus Safety will be notified, and Santos said that in this particular case, the notification will be passed along to the CC community.
“Campus Safety is not just the people in the office but everyone on campus,” Santos said. “We get a lot of help from the community about people or activities that are unusual. The CC community can tell us when we need to be in a certain spot.” It is due to the vigilance and aid of students that Bethke was taken into police custody.