Approximately one-and-a-half hours after neighbors heard gunshots from the Athens Community Theater, students, faculty and employees received text messages alerting them of the event.
Professor George Zinkhan was not one of them.
University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said UGAAlert was delayed 20 minutes because University police wanted to ensure Zinkhan would not receive the message.
"With UGAAlert, we're trying to be prudent," he said. "Our fear was that if he got the message - he knows people know he did the crime - but once the UGAAlert was sent out, it jars his memory that, 'Oh now, 40,000 people know I did it,' and he may start feeling like he's trapped in some way, and do something that none of us were prepared for, like take a hostage."
Williamson said he was initially unsure if Zinkhan's number could be extracted from the list. Because this request had never come up before, developing a strategy took time.
"We probably could've got it out maybe 20 minutes faster. Our biggest concern was, what if we send this description out and he gets it?"
It was discovered later that Zinkhan's only registered UGAAlert contact was a University land line.
Williamson and University Police have received criticism that UGAAlert was not dispatched quickly enough, but Williamson said there is "a little bit of an unrealistic expectation" when it comes to UGAAlert.
"I don't think it's ever going to be as instantaneous as people want it to be, just because information is coming in slow sometimes, or we're getting so much information, we can't figure out what's correct," he said. "That's not one of these canned messages like the tornado warnings. We had to generate it. And you can only do so many characters through text messages."
Williamson, University President Michael Adams and Vice President of Public Affairs Tom Jackson held a press conference Monday morning addressing the overall safety of campus and the University's role in the investigation.
Adams disclosed that Zinkhan's position at the University had been "terminated." At Brooks Hall, Zinkhan's office door nameplate had been taken down Monday morning.
Jackson said 64,000 UGAAlert contacts were successful Saturday, with a contact rate of 82 percent. "Only a few unsuccessful calls went to offices that were not occupied over the weekend," he said.
Adams said he was pleased and proud of public safety efforts made by both University and Athens Clarke-County Police.
"Our primary focus has been and continues to be the safety and well being of the students, faculty and staff that make up our University of Georgia community," Adams said. "UGA and ACC police have done an extraordinary job of providing a strong law enforcement presence as we enter the final week of classes and anticipate exams. I have great confidence in their ability to provide protection to the campus."
Students attended class as scheduled Monday, but police officers were on foot patrol, carrying semi-automatic AR-15 rifles among the hustle of class change.
"AR-15 is a technology that we had in place before Virginia Tech," Williamson said. "After Virginia Tech, we found out from our community that they wanted to know we had those means available. We now felt today, based on Saturday's events and the community concern, that we needed to have that equipment out there with the officers. It's better to have the equipment and not have the need, than to have the need and not have the equipment."
Williamson and Adams assured that these measures were only precautionary, and campus is "very safe."
"Based on what we know now, we feel that [Zinkhan] is no longer local," Williamson said. Jackson and Williamson said they are cooperating with ACC police's requests not to release any information regarding Zinkhan's suspected destination or any other aspect of the ongoing investigation. "But I think that's a very safe assumption," Williamson said.
Adams and Williamson also addressed issues of cancelling classes and a campus-wide "lockdown."
"We had a full discussion of the pros and cons of [cancelling class], and it was the united recommendation of all senior administrators to return to classes as normal," Adams said.
Williamson said a "lockdown" is a "K-12 concept" that would be impossible for the University to enact.
"Lockdowns happen every day in K-12 campuses because they are usually a one-building facility," Williamson said. "The other thing [students] need to understand is that in K-12, they have adults in charge of young people. There are ways to lock doors on campus, but as an adult, I can't keep you from going anywhere. All I can do is say, 'I warned you. You're an adult, and you have a right.' There's no physical way that we could put up a barrier around campus, there is no physical way to lock every door on this campus."
In addition to protecting University staff and students, Adams said he wants to support them.
"We remain very concerned about the impact of this situation on our students and our employees, and we will deploy, without regard to expense every resource in an effort to support and protect our people," he said.
Meanwhile, authorities are investigating whether Zinkhan had made earlier plans to leave the country, which could give clues as to whether the shootings were premeditated. In a federal court affidavit filed Monday, Delta Air Lines confirmed Zinkhan has a ticket to Amsterdam for May 2, according to Associated Press reports.
"He may change the date and attempt to leave early," said Gregory McClendon, an FBI special agent, in the affidavit, which seeks a federal arrest warrant.
ACC Police Captain Clarence Holeman told The Red & Black that authorities plan on being at the airport May 2, but Holeman said he doubts that Zinkhan will be there.
Zinkhan's brother, Chris, told the AP in an e-mail that he and family members would work with Athens police and the FBI.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their friends," Zinkhan said to the Associated Press.
However, local authorities are not ruling out the possibility that George Zinkhan has committed suicide.
"It is only natural to think he could react that way," Holeman said. "That's just instinctive."
- Contributing: Caitlin Byrnes