Florida Tech holds vigil for dead student, community safety; parents announce investigation

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Friends of an 18-year old shot by campus security and a police officer, as well as other students and staff members disturbed by this past weekend’s violent series of events gathered in the heart of Florida Tech’s campus Tuesday night to pay their respects and pray for peace.

Police still haven’t said why the student, Alhaji Sow of Riverdale, Georgia, began threatening others with a knife.

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Just before 11 p.m. Friday, officers said they were called after reports that Sow was chasing other students around. He was followed into a building, where officers said a security guard and an officer killed him.

Sow’s friends said he was well known around campus and an overall likeable person. Some were in tears during the vigil. Others said it took them time to come to terms with what happened.

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“He was the first person that I ever met here, first friend I had,” Dale Henry, a freshman, said. “We kind of bonded really quickly and it would definitely mean something if I would at least be able to be here with other people that knew him as well.”

Others attending the service, which consisted of a short prayer, moment of silence, candle lighting and quiet reflection, did not know the man. Instead, they were there to reflect in the middle of a stressful time on campus.

“You hear about school shooting school violence almost weekly in the U.S.,” Onur Tunc, a graduate student, said. “I feel like something needs to be done, whether by lawmakers, the President, you know, I just think something needs to change with security.”

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Like others, Tunc said he took security classes as part of his management degree. He offered up possible solutions like increasing metal detector use and mental health evaluations to keep schools more secure.

Most students, though, just wanted a chance to reflect and move on.

“I was upset when I learned about who it was, but I was able to keep my chin high and I’m very grateful and thankful for the friends I have,” Henry said.

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Sow’s family members will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. Wednesday to announce they’ve hired a firm to investigate the incident, and particularly to question why non-lethal methods were not used to subdue the teenager instead.

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