Lions Care: Updates

Official information will be updated here as it is released.

Deja Matts – Candlelight Vigil

Monday, February 10, 2020 at 3:33 PM

Please join us in celebrating the life of Deja Matts with our fellow Lion Community. A candlelight vigil will be held on Tuesday, February 11th at 6:00 pm in the Rayburn Student Center Conference Rooms. We encourage all attendees to wear purple in honor of Deja’s favorite color. Deja was a freshman at A&M-Commerce and was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. If you would like to submit photos, quotes, or memories in honor of Deja please email [email protected] or contact her at 903-468-3317 by Monday, February 10th at 5:00 pm.

There will be opportunities for all attendees to leave kind words and other remembrances at the program if you choose.

To request ADA accommodations please contact Student Disability Services at [email protected] by Monday, February 10th at 5:00pm.

Counseling Center Resources

February 6, 2020

Director Nick Patras shares Counseling Center resources in a letter to faculty and staff.

Update from President Mark Rudin and Campus Safety Action Plan

February 5, 2020

Dear Lion Family –

We are all shocked and saddened by the shooting that occurred on our campus earlier this week. Please continue to keep the victims of this senseless crime, Deja Matts, Abbaney Matts, and her two-year old son, in your thoughts and prayers. I also ask that you pray for the extended family of these individuals in the hope that they will heal and once again find peace and happiness in their lives.

There is a saying that joy is born in sorrow. I can’t quite find a path in my mind that gets us to feeling joyous from this situation. However, I can see how our Lion family has banded together and has found comfort in one another during this time of grief. I would be remiss if I did not mention a couple of things for which I am thankful. First, the number of people who have reached out to me and the university with condolences has been a bit overwhelming, but very much welcomed and appreciated. I hope one day to be able to reach out to each one of you individually in order to reciprocate the compassion and caring in each of the emails and messages I received. I understand the frustration that many folks have expressed regarding the amount of information coming out of the university related to this incident. Like you, I want to know exactly what is going on during every step of the investigation. However, that simply is not possible. Many of the things we wanted to say publicly to students, faculty, staff and families could have potentially jeopardized the criminal case against a suspect being pursued by our University Police Department and the Texas Rangers. In part, because we conducted ourselves in a very disciplined manner, and respected the rights of the victims’ family, the authorities were able to make an arrest of a suspect in this case in approximately 36 hours after the incident. Speaking of the authorities, our University Police Department did an outstanding job in handling this case. I saw first-hand how they were able to find balance between caring and supporting our campus, and bringing the suspect to justice. I am proud to work with them. I am also thankful for our amazing students who have demonstrated a great sense of care and compassion for each other and their campus community. Finally, a special thanks goes to our faculty and staff who wake up every day with a commitment to the success and welfare of our outstanding students. I am thankful to call them colleagues.

I cannot stress enough that the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is our number one priority at Texas A&M University-Commerce. And, although we have made much progress in the area of safety on our campus, we can, and should, always do better. We live in a world now where what happened on our campus can, unfortunately, happen anywhere. We have been diligent when it comes to safety and security, and we need to be proactive and constantly reassessing if we are doing enough. Consequently, we are issuing the Campus Safety Action Plan for immediate implementation. As mentioned in the plan, I would appreciate any feedback, recommendations, additions, etc. that you may have. This will be a dynamic, fluid document that will be continually improved, and updates will be communicated on our website. Our only option is a sustained, continuous improvement of safety on our campus.

Thank you all again. We will get through this together – that’s what Lions do.

Let’s go grab a coffee some time,

Mark

Campus Safety Action Plan

February 5, 2020, 1:00 p.m.

View the Campus Safety Action Plan.

University Shooting Suspect Arrested

February 4, 2020, 5:00 p.m.

A suspect has been arrested on the charge of capital murder in connection with the shootings that occurred on the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce this week.

The suspect is 21-year-old Jacques Dshawn Smith. Smith is not a student at A&M-Commerce. He is believed to be the ex-boyfriend of Abbaney Matts, one of the deceased individuals.

An arrest warrant was obtained through the use of surveillance and witness tips.

A&M-Commerce University Police Department led the investigation with the help of the Texas Rangers, FBI, DPS, ATF, Mesquite Police Department, Commerce Police Department, Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and Hunt County Homeland Security.

Update from University Police Department

February 4, 2020, 10:50 AM

Our continued thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of the victims from this week’s tragedy.

A&M-Commerce University Police Department has confirmed the identities of the two deceased. The first victim is 19-year-old Deja Matts. Deja was a freshman at A&M-Commerce and was pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She was from Garland, Texas. The second victim is 20-year-old Abbaney Matts, sister of Deja. Abbaney was not an enrolled student at A&M-Commerce.

The third victim, two-year-old son of Abbaney Matts, was treated and released to the care of family members.

According to the University Police Department, the shooting appears to be a targeted, isolated event. This remains an active investigation with multiple law enforcement agencies assisting.

At 11:27 AM The University Police Department posted a recording of the 911 call to their website.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT MARK RUDIN

February 3, 2020 at 10:03 PM

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family, friends and students impacted by today’s tragic event. During this difficult time, we encourage our Lion family – students, faculty, staff and friends – to remain supportive of each other.

Since this is an active investigation multiple law enforcement agencies are still conducting, we cannot speak further to the specific circumstances surrounding this isolated incident at this time. We assure you that we are taking measures to ensure your continued safety on campus and to provide services and support to you all.

Our priority is for the safety of each and every member of our community. To that end, we have increased our staff presence in residential communities, and our University Police Department (UPD) has increased patrol around campus. As a result of these safety measures, Pride Rock will reopen at 10:15 p.m. CST Monday evening.

Our Counseling Center has expanded services to any students needing guidance or support during this time. Our Residential Living and Learning office has also arranged with local community partners to provide housing for any students temporarily displaced.

Below is a list of contacts for students and families needing additional services:

University Police Department (903) 886-5868 / 911 (on campus)

Residential Living and Learning (903) 886-5797 – main

(903) 468-2597 – Pride Rock residents

Counseling Center (903) 886-5145

I encourage you to take care of yourself, to utilize any university services that you may need, and to communicate with others that may need comfort during this time. As we unite in mourning today’s event, I know the resolve our Lion family exhibits in times of crisis. Thus, I am confident we can unite in demonstrating that resolve together.

Mark Rudin
President

UPDATE: CAMPUS SCHEDULE

February 3, 2020 at 4:00 PM

The health and safety of our students is always our top priority at A&M-Commerce. Therefore, all classes, programs and events on our campus will be cancelled on Monday, February 3rd; Tuesday, February 4th; and Wednesday, February 5th. This includes all remote locations and online classes. All services on the Commerce campus will be provided for students. Faculty and staff should report to work as usual. Classes and campus operations will resume on Thursday, February 6th.

Professional counselors are available in the Halladay Student Services building on campus or by calling 903.886.5145 for anyone who needs assistance.

UPDATE: SHELTER IN PLACE LIFTED

February 3, 2020, 1:25 PM

The precautionary shelter in place recommendations have been lifted. Due to the ongoing investigation, Pride Rock and surrounding areas are still blocked off. The Rayburn Student Center is available for students that may be displaced by the ongoing investigation.

Counselors are available in Rayburn Student Center conference rooms on campus for anyone who needs assistance coping with this situation.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

EMERGENCY SHELTER IN PLACE

February 3, 2020 at 12:44 PM

Students, faculty and staff are instructed to take shelter and stay in place until further notice. This is a precautionary measure.

A&M-Commerce UPD is actively investigating three gunshot victims in Pride Rock Residence Hall on the A&M-Commerce campus. There have been two confirmed deaths. The third victim has been taken to the hospital for treatment. UPD has stationed officers throughout the campus, including all key gathering points, for the safety of the campus community.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

EMERGENCY SHELTER IN PLACE

Feb 3, 2020, at 11:46 AM

UPD is currently working an active criminal investigation at Pride Rock. All students, faculty, and staff should shelter in place until further notice. All classes are cancelled for the remainder of the day and evening at the A&M-Commerce campus.

Additional sheltering space is available at the Club and in the ballrooms at Rayburn Student Center. Faculty and staff are encouraged to remain in their offices.

Campus Alert

Feb 3, 2020, at 11:27 AM

UPD is working a crime scene at Pride Rock. Very little information is known at this time, and any threat level is unknown. Please shelter in place until further information is available.