Oikos shooting: Oakland police use Twitter to alert citizens of gunman

Dylan Stableford

People using Twitter to communicate during breaking news events is nothing new. But police using the micro-messaging service to keep the community informed is less common.

In the aftermath of Monday's shooting at California's Oikos University, which left at least seven dead and several others wounded, Oakland police used Twitter to alert citizens of the shooting, encourage them stay away from the area and, eventually, offer a description of the suspected gunman.

Here's part of the department's Twitter stream:

Shooting scene near Edgewater and Hegenberger. Stay out of area - will update on police perimeter.

Possible suspect is male, asian, heavy build, khaki clothing, near or in area. Call 9-1-1, or 510-777-3321 if suspect.

Traffic Blocked along Edgewater, from Roland to Pendleton, and along Oakport from Roland to Edgewater.

Possible Suspect in custody. No imminent public safety threat appears to exist in immediate area.

Traffic and access remains blocked for investigation. Department will announce ... press conference via press release, Nixle, and Twitter.

Thank you to partnering law enforcement agencies for their help in securing scene and assisting with investigation.

According to Mashable, the department uses Twitter regularly. But Oakland's KTVU, which was also tweeting during the aftermath, has more than five times the number of followers (21,935) than Oakland PD (3,906) has.

And Sgt. Chris Bolton, who runs the account, says the police's Twitter feed "is not routinely monitored," and tweets are not a substitute for emergency calls. In other words, in the event of emergency, call 911; don't tweet.

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