Binghamton University released a B-Alert on Friday regarding the shooting of Shakeel Khan in Johnson City, following pressure from multiple student groups to address the incident.
In an emergency meeting on Wednesday night held by Decol A, a student group that aims to conduct Asian American activism, students criticized University officials for failing to notify the campus community when Khan, 50, was murdered by a masked shooter outside his restaurant, Halal Bites in Johnson City, while closing for the day. The shooter has yet to be identified, and the meeting also focused on warning Muslim students and people of color to be cautious while the shooter remains at large.
On Thursday, the group delivered an open letter to University President Harvey Stenger condemning BU’s lack of response to the incident and urging the University to send out an emergency notification to students, faculty and staff. The letter also demanded University officials explain why an alert wasn’t immediately sent out following the shooting, acknowledge the incident as a hate crime, hold a town hall with students and community members to discuss the situation and expand the Safe Ride network to Johnson City and Downtown Binghamton.
“Halal Bites is one of the few halal restaurants in the area that Muslim and Desi students frequent,” the letter read. “Binghamton University has invested over 50 million dollars into this area, yet has not addressed this hate crime. The new pharmacy school and many off-campus student residences are all within a three minute radius of Mr. Khan’s restaurant. As of writing this letter, the murderer is still at large.”
In the B-Alert released on Friday, President Stenger offered condolences to Khan’s family and the Muslim community, but did not explicitly refer to the incident as a hate crime.
“We have spoken to officials in Johnson City who have been working around the clock on the case,” the B-Alert read. “They assure us that they do not believe there is any threat to the public, but they do ask anyone with information to come forward to police. At the moment, we do not have enough information about this senseless murder to understand the nature of the crime; this is an on-going Johnson City investigation with support from the New York State Police. We are actively following this case and can make a better determination once we learn more.”
Stenger also wrote that B-Alerts are not typically issued in cases where a crime does not occur “on or near University property.” According to Stenger, the shooting did not constitute an “immediate threat” to students.
“In deciding whether to issue a crime advisory, the University must consider all of the facts surrounding the incident, such as the nature of the crime, the continuing danger to the campus community and the possible risk of compromising law enforcement efforts,” the B-Alert read. “Our commitment to safety is something we take very seriously.”
The University has previously faced criticism from students regarding emergency notifications, including in April 2018, when freshman Joao Souza was fatally stabbed in Windham Hall of Mountainview College. In the open letter, Muslim and Desi students wrote that they felt ignored and neglected by administrators.
“In the wake of this incident, we once again question the University’s definition of ‘everyone,’ as our community is terrified to leave our rooms and practice our religious beliefs, especially with the Holy Month of Ramadan almost upon us,” the letter read. “Due to the University’s negligence, the multicultural community was forced to meet on our own to not only offer support for those personally affected by this event, but to address the mistreatment that we all feel at the hands of this University.”
In an Instagram post on Friday, Decol A members wrote that the University’s B-Alert did not address many of their demands, and did not “make up for their lack of concern and timeliness.”
“They dismiss that they didn’t know the ‘nature of the crime,’ and thereby invalidate the Islamaphobia, worries of students and concerns of everyone here,” the post read. “Harvey Stenger’s reasonings are simply untrue; they are excuses for this administration’s lack of timeliness and blatant racism.”
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@binghamtonu finally notified us, but 6 DAYS AFTER THE MURDER OF #SHAKEELKHAN. They dismiss that they didn’t know the “nature of the crime”, and thereby invalidate the Islamaphobia, worries of students and concerns of everyone here. Harvey Stenger’s reasonings are simply untrue; they are excuses for this administration’s lack of timeliness and blatant racism. JAZZMAN’S, 8 PM, SUNDAY. WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL OUR DEMANDS ARE MET! #JUSTICE4SHAKEEL #HARVEYDONTCARE
The group plans to hold another emergency meeting at Jazzman’s Cafe in Glenn G. Bartle Library on Sunday at 8 p.m.