Lashondra Evans can’t stop thinking about all that could have gone wrong the night campus police showed up at her daughter’s dorm room.
It had been only a few weeks since 17-year-old Christin Evans’ parents saw her away to college. She had been recruited to cheer at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and was eager to begin making friends and getting started on the cheer squad.
But as she lay asleep in her bed early on Monday, Sep. 14, Christin awoke to guns and bright lights in her face. Police had stormed into her room, their guns drawn.
She would find out later that her three white roommates and at least seven other girls had falsely accused her of trying to stab them with a pair of scissors, reports the Washington Post, prompting a resident adviser in her dorm to call the police. After the confrontation with campus officers, which ended without any physical injury to Christin, investigators confirmed from watching the dorm’s security footage that the freshman was innocent.
But Christin’s family remains frustrated by the lack of action against the students who put her life in danger, calling a press conference on Monday to draw attention to the incident.
“I want justice,” LaShondra Evans told reporters, according to ABC13. “I want [the people responsible] to have consequences. They played with her life.”
SFA Chief of Police John Fields said in a recent video message that a “racially diverse” group of students were involved in filing the false report. Christin’s parents, however, believe the incident was a racially motivated example of “swatting,” reports ABC13.
“Swatting” is a potentially deadly form of harassment in which a false claim is filed against a person with the aim of getting an armed police squad (a “SWAT” team) to raid the person’s location. It’s sometimes framed as a “prank,” but the act is incredibly dangerous: In 2018, a swatting call from a Call of Duty gamer Tyler Barris led to an innocent man, Andrew Finch, being shot and killed by police who showed up at his home.
“This could have been a Breonna Taylor circumstance,” said Evans family lawyer Randall Kallinen.
“Kids sleep with their phones in their bed. What if they [saw] her phone flash, or the back of her phone is shiny…and they had reported she had a knife,” Lashondra Evans told reporters. “They could’ve shot her.”
Christin moved into a new dorm room in the weeks following the incident, but the Houston native said she still feels shaken by everything that happened.
“I can’t sleep at night. It has made me paranoid,” she said, according to KHOU 11.
She held back tears as she continued, “I was looking forward to making friends and having a good time on the cheer team. But since this happened, it’s made it really, really, really hard. So like I said, I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
SFA President Scott Gordon said in a statement that the university is taking the situation seriously and that “judicial processes take time.”
“Each perpetrator will be dealt with appropriately,” Gordon promised. “My heart goes out to the young lady who was an innocent victim in this matter. We will do all we can to support her and her family through this heinous ordeal.”