Roodhouse Man One of Two R.A.’s Commended for Actions During WIU Shooting

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 29, 2020 at 10:45am

WIU Office of Public Safety Interim Director Derek Watts, Thompson Hall RA Marcus Sweeten, Thompson Hall RA Joshua Smith & Interim President Martin Abraham. {Photo: WIU Visual Production Center}

A Roodhouse man was one of two honored Monday for their actions during the shooting incident at Western Illinois University.

Marcus Sweeten, a senior history major from Roodhouse, and Joshua Smith, a sophomore law enforcement and justice administration major from Crete, Illinois, both serve as Resident Assistants in Thompson Hall, where a university student was allegedly shot by his roommate during the evening hours of September 15th.

Sweeten and Smith were presented with letters of commendation from the school, by WIU Interim President Martin Abraham, Office of Public Safety Interim Director Derek Watts, Interim Vice President for Student Services John Smith, Associate Vice President for Student Services John Biernbaum and Director of Residence Life Mishelle Oaks.

Watts says that Sweeten and Smith administered life saving first aid to the shooting victim until first responders arrived on scene. Sweeten says he went to the floor assigned to Smith due to the fire alarm protocol and found Smith taking action with the shooting victim.

Smith says he remembers seeing the gun go off and he ran, but something in him told him to go back, so he did. He says he could not leave the victim or his residents and felt he needed to do something, no matter the consequences to his health.

Sweeten says when he found Smith attending to the victim, he quickly found himself taking the same action in giving the immediate care the victim needed.

WIU Interim President Martin Abraham says the university is proud to have Sweeten and Smith as members of the Thompson Hall resident assistant staff. In addition to honoring Smith and Sweeten, Watts, on behalf of Office of Public Safety, presented a letter of appreciation to all Thompson Hall resident assistants and hall staff for their efforts on Sept. 15 and the following days.

Watt’s says “Joshua’s and Marcus’ selfless actions played a vital role in protecting their resident from further harm. Their initial care kept him stable until emergency medical personnel could take over, and their actions went above and beyond their roles as resident assistants,” and that “The resident assistants and other hall staff in Thompson Hall displayed tremendous calm and professionalism throughout this incident to ensure the safety of their residents. We are pleased to work beside these students.”

Sweeten has been a resident assistant since August of 2019, while Smith started in August of this year.