Mankato shooting puts city, county alert systems to the test

That system was put to the test last Friday when a shooting incident at a Mankato apartment building prompted a shelter-in-place alert.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 8:01 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2022 at 8:08 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Homes, businesses and mobile phone users can receive customized emergency messages through Blue Earth County’s messaging system.

That system was put to the test last Friday when a shooting incident at a Mankato apartment building prompted a shelter-in-place alert impacting a nearby hospital and college.

”We had a college campus very close to it and the hospital both again with individuals that could have been coming and likely were coming to those campuses,” Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Captain Paul Barta said. “The only way we could get some notice out to them was to do it through IPAWS. Then, when they got into the area, their phone was going to alert them and give them that situation awareness that there was something occurring there.”

Thanks to a national system for local alerting known as IPAWS, residents were quickly alerted to stay away from Echo Street after a shooting in Mankato last Friday.

A shelter-in-place alert was issued for that neighborhood.

“Because it was confined to the Echo Street area where they were working, they made a notice to me and said, ‘can you help with some public alerting stuff?’ because they had a lot of staff resources dedicated to it and were looking for help in that regard,” Barta explained.

Even though the alert was only intended for Echo Street and the surrounding area, people outside of the area were also notified.

“In that alert, when it went out, that it went up pretty significantly further than we off because again, we had it section really very tightly to that Echo Street area, but again, it just overruns the system based on where the towers are located for the different providers, and we do the best we can, we make the best decision we can in the moment,” Barta stated.

Here in Blue Earth County, community members have the opportunity to sign up for CodeRED to receive notifications from the local emergency response team in the event of critical community alerts.

“It offers us again the opportunity to look at a specific area that we feel is impacted, draw geo-fence or create a zone if you will, and then send that alert out to that zone,” Barta said. “But it’s important to note that the only way that you’re going to get that notice is if you’ve registered or signed up for the system if you’ve opted in for it or opted into it.”

Editors Note: CodeRED is an optional system in Blue Earth County. Alerts, such as IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert & Warning System) are automatic.