Family of Florida Tech student killed by police hire attorney to conduct investigation into shooting

VIERA, Fla. — The family of a student shot and killed by law enforcement on the campus of a Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne spoke out Wednesday about his death.

Police said the student was chasing other students with a knife last Friday when officers opened fire.


18-year-old Alhaji Sow’s parents want to know why non-lethal force wasn’t used.

“You don’t know how much pain you get from losing a child,” Sow’s father said.

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

Melbourne police gave a new timeline of what led up to the shooting.

Police said at around 10:40 p.m. Friday, Sow got into a fight with a woman at the Columbia Village apartments.

They said Sow arrived at an apartment of a female friend in the apartments when there was a physical altercation and Sow was asked to leave.

Around 10:45 p.m., investigators said Sow began attacking other female students inside a campus garage.

“He punched a girl,” a 911 caller said.

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Investigators said one of the 911 calls reported that Sow was dressed in black and armed with a knife.

According to the report, around 10:56 p.m., a caller told police that Sow was vandalizing cars inside a campus garage.

Shortly after 11 p.m., Melbourne police officers and an armed security officer found Sow inside a dormitory room.

Police said he dropped the knife on the second floor inside the dorm but was armed with a pair of scissors.

Investigators said that was when Sow lunged at a Melbourne police officer, striking the officer’s leg.

Several shots were fired, killing Sow.

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“Our primary concern is why non-lethal options weren’t considered or used in this case,” attorney Greg Francis said.

According to the family’s attorney, legal representatives from Florida Tech have asked the family not to come to campus.

Channel 9 was told a reason was not given.

In a statement, Florida Tech spokesman Wes Sumner referred all questions regarding the incident to the Melbourne Police Department and and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“Florida Tech followed its procedures of offering condolences to the family with a follow-up phone call after we were alerted that law enforcement had completed notification to next of kin,” Sumner’s statement said. “The family has since been on campus to pick up their son’s belongings, and we continue to offer our support and assistance during this difficult time. We are committed to doing all that we can to support our campus community.”

Florida Tech students and staff held a candlelight vigil on campus Tuesday night.

Some of those who attended knew Sow personally. Others said they thought it was important to come together to call for peace and healing.

READ: Police: Knife-wielding Florida Tech student shot and killed by officer on campus

The school has also been making counselors available to students who need someone to talk to.

Francis said the school’s crisis management training is being investigated.

Sow’s family said Sow had no history of mental illness and was a first-semester student at Florida Tech.

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Francis said the family will be requesting any body camera or cell phone footage that was taken.

The attorney said Sow posed no threat to other students.

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Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.