Alhaji Sow, an 18-year-old student studying at the Florida Institute of Technology, was fatally shot by police Friday night in an armed confrontation. The sophomore and tutor, studying aeronautical science, was allegedly threatening students with a knife when an officer shot and killed Alhaji around 11 p.m.
The incident occurred on campus in Melbourne, located southeast of Orlando, Fl., after officers were informed of a Florida Institute of Technology student “armed with a knife and assaulting students.”
According to police reports, it does not appear that anyone else was harmed in the event, but that the cop who fired and killed Alhaji Sow reportedly “sustained an injury.”
Investigators are currently investigating the shooting to learn what happened and what led to the student’s death. So far, it appears that no other students were injured, and it is unknown what sort of injury the officer who shot and killed Alhaji Sow suffered from.
Florida Tech later released a Tweet explaining that “no one else was seriously injured.”
According to a press release issued by the Melbourne police department, Alhaji Sow was confronted by authorities after he entered Roberts Hall, a dormitory for freshman. Allegedly lunging at one of the officers, Alhaji Sow was struck by gun fire from a Melbourne police officer and a FIT school security officer. They attempted to save his life on the scene but he succumbed to his injuries.
The officer’s name has not been disclosed, but the press release stated that he is a “5-year veteran of the department.”
“My heart goes out to everyone in pain. I mourn any loss of life, while I also remain steadfastly thankful for the men and women who invest their lives in protecting us,” said University President Dr. T. Dwayne McCay in a statement on Saturday. “The safest university campuses are the ones where students, staff, faculty and others look out for one another. We do that at Florida Tech.”
According to local reporters from WSB-TV, Alhaji Sow’s parents described him as a great kid and are struggling to understand what happened.
“He never struck me as anybody to do this type of stuff,” said Dale Henry, a freshman in computer science. “He was a really calm and chill guy.”
The shooting occurred right outside his dorm room, where he later told Florida Today that Alhaji Sow was the first person he met on campus.
Many people commenting online were confused about how the incident ended in the death of the young, 18-year-old student, and why the student could not have been tasered.
“Wouldn’t a police taser been a more appropriate use of force against a skinny 18-year-old freshman kid with a knife, apparently having some sort of mental break?” one commenter asked police on Facebook.
According to WSB-TV, Alhaji Sow’s death comes just one week after Georgia Tech was forced to reach a $1 million settlement in the police shooting of a student, Scout Schultz, who was shot and killed in a very similar situation. Officers alleged that he had a knife and was having a mental breakdown, but it was later revealed that he was wielding a “multi-purpose tool.”
The Melbourne police department later described Alhaji Sow’s knife as an “edged weapon,” similar to how Schultz’ non-lethal tool, leading many to question if the shooting was justified.
Schultz’ family attorney Chris Stewart said that the police shooting was not “justified” and that officers should have “continued to try to deescalate” the situation.
Officers at Georgia Tech have since been supplied with tasers and were ordered to complete 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team training. The incident at the Florida Institute of Technology is still under investigation.