Photo by: Larry Valenzuela
Instructor Fearful for Self, Students after Classroom Incident
October 25, 2016
A Fresno City College instructor said he is concerned for his safety after fighting off an intruder attempting to enter his early morning class on Oct. 10. Ray Stanton, math instructor, says he is also upset with the way police responded to the incident.
It all started when FCC student Jaime Galban walked to his 6 a.m. math class in Room 188 of the Old Administration Building. Galban reported that when he entered a restroom, a suspicious person asked for his name and number.
Galban said he complied but that the man followed him to Stanton’s math class and waited outside the door. It was still dark out.
“He kept pacing back and forth outside our class, and I just saw him, and I was planning to walk out of the other door,” Galban said. “Some girls came in, and they seemed scared of him.”
But it wasn’t long before the man, later identified as Thomas Hawkins, a student at the college, entered Stanton’s algebra class, asking to join, according to reports by many students.
Stanton said he told the intruder it was too late to join and asked him to leave. Galban said Hawkins did leave the classroom, but stood by the door.
Stanton later checked on the man.
“I went out to evaluate the situation and then the intruder admitted that he was not interested in adding the class but wanted to get in contact and check on Jaime.”
Stanton said the exchange took a turn when the student attempted to enter the class without permission, at one point even fighting Stanton for control of the door.
“I repeatedly told the intruder he would need to leave,” Stanton said. “The Intruder refused, and the situation escalated as he forced his way into the room, clipping my head with the door.”
Stanton claims the intruder kept saying repeatedly, “I want to check on Jaime” as he struggled to enter the class. Galban says he had never met the intruder until that very morning, but the man wanted to know if he was “OK,” according to Stanton.
“I was running on adrenaline, trying to get this guy away from my students and keep my class safe,” Stanton said.
The man then decided to leave. Stanton said he believed Hawkins may have been under the influence of drugs.
Stanton said he tried calling State Center Community College District Police using the emergency phone in his classroom, but he discovered that it was not working.
Stanton said “I tried the panic button; it didn’t work. I checked the phone for a dial tone; it didn’t work. I found out later that the phone was on a back-up power supply, but it was not operational.”
Stanton then dismissed the class and told them to get to their cars.
Stanton left the classroom to call for help on his personal phone but student Ut Phan, wanted to stay to finish her test. Stanton locked the door while Phan stayed put. Phan says that Hawkins then came back to the door.
“He asked me to open the door and I said ‘no,’ then he kept trying to open the door and I got scared and started thinking that I had to leave,” she said.
Phan at that point said Stanton had returned to the classroom from the back door and Hawkins saw him and ran around to get in through the back door as well.
Stanton got a hold of the Fresno Police Department using his personal phone.
Stanton says five officers arrived at around 6:41 a.m.
Both Phan and Stanton said that as the officers approached, Hawkins told them that he was just trying to check on the girl inside the classroom.
Stanton said the officers approached the student and found he was carrying a knife in his pocket. The student was held for a short time before he was let go, Stanton said.
“Honestly, I was disappointed with the Fresno Police Department,” said Stanton. “I assumed the officers would handcuff him and take him away because I told one officer that he had tried to force his way in.”
Stanton claims the officers were “shooing” Hawkins away like “a stray animal.” Stanton said he believes he has seen the intruder on several occasions back on campus.
In an email to faculty two days later, Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith addressed the incident briefly and described the confrontation as “nonviolent.” She stated she believes the incident was a “healthcare” issue.
In an email interview with the Rampage, Goldsmith said she could not comment on the specifics of this case “due to privacy rights and respect for due process.”
She said Stanton did everything right and followed the protocols.
Goldsmith has also “ordered the College and IT staff to test every phone on campus and fix any and all issues. . . This has been remedied, and now ongoing testing will continue in order to ensure proper working order of our phones as well as our surveillance cameras.”
“This case, like others, are taken quite seriously by FCC administration and the college has a standard for student conduct,’” Goldsmith wrote in an email. “Violation of those standards may result in discipline as set out in Administrative Regulation 5520.”
The president advocates for more training on safety, which she said, “will be an ongoing topic for upcoming brown bag lunch sessions as well as a topic for our next campus-wide professional development day.”
As for Stanton, the fear remains; he and his students saw the student return back to campus after the altercation.
Stanton said, “I was worried we were then going to be confronted with a knife fight to try and keep ourselves safe.”
Goldsmith said, “We need to be vigilant and look out for one another.”