"Everyone had the look of terror on their face": Man disrupts MATC ceremony, sends people running

NOW: “Everyone had the look of terror on their face“: Man disrupts MATC ceremony, sends people running

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - A man causes ‘chaos’ at a ceremony at MATC Tuesday.

It had terrified people running for the door.

It happened at an end of the year ceremony for a nursing program.

A man walked in and disrupted the event not once, but twice, and people who were there said they feared for their lives.

“It really was kind of a mass panic,” said Jennifer Taylor, a nursing student who had a front row seat to the incident.

“All of a sudden we noticed a gentleman standing out front,” said Taylor.

She says the man started causing a disruption, and refused to leave.  That’s when things escalated.

“I think everybody’s first thought was he might hurt us, he may try to hurt us,” said Tayor, “I thought he had his hand in a pocket and that’s when I got up, everybody stood up in one mass exodus.”

Amanda Smith was near the back of the room when she suddenly saw graduates and others running towards her.

“They had a look of terror on their face, and one of the girls said run,” said Smith, “I hear another girl say ‘I think he has a gun,’ that makes you even more scared, run faster.”

Smith got two block away before she stopped running.

The man was eventually removed, everyone came back, and the program continued.  But just minutes later, the man was back.

“Came crashing through the door yelling,” said Taylor.

“The same guy came back, and he was screaming and at that time I thought maybe he does have a gun this time,” said Smith.

That’s when the crowd jumped into action.

“At that time, he was just tackled by bystanders in the audience,” said Taylor.

“They did drag him into the hall and I’m positive they tased him,” said Smith.

The man was arrested and the program did finish, but it’s a night neither woman will forget.

“It was just the scariest thing I’ve ever been through,” said Smith.

“Just to have that happen on a night that was supposed to be so wonderful, it was very disheartening,” said Taylor.

Taylor said she would’ve liked MATC to handle the situation differently.

“I don’t think maybe the campus was prepared for the situation, it’s really unfortunate that it happened a second time, I don’t think that should’ve happened,” said Taylor.

MATC sent out this email following the incident:

“During the nurse pinning ceremony Tuesday evening, a person who was not connected to the program entered Cooley Auditorium on our Downtown Milwaukee Campus, walked to the front of the space and was behaving erratically.

The audience was moved to safety, the man was removed by MATC Public Safety, the Milwaukee Police Department was called and responded, and the program resumed. The man reentered the space and was again apprehended. The ceremony resumed and was completed.

We later were able to determine that the unarmed person who caused the disruption is a current student.

We take this matter very seriously because the safety of our college community and guests is our highest priority. MATC is working in partnership with the Milwaukee Police Department on its investigation into this matter and the college will continue to strategically evaluate safety needs for each event and the college as a whole.”

Taylor says there is a graduation ceremony this weekend, and she hopes there is more security.

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