Gangland shooting re-enacted in criminal investigation classroom – Crusader News

Blood spatter, gunshots and gangs – it was a crime scene in the classroom. Students in the Criminal Investigations class were tasked with solving the crime through blood samples, fingerprints, and photographs.

Seward County Community College offers the class as a hands-on opportunity for students to solve real crimes and gain investigative experience. For the first “Crime Scene Tuesday” – as the students dubbed it – most stood staring around the room in shock.

“I think I speak for all of us when I ask: how do I start? sophomore Jessica Madrigal, Spearman, Texas, asked before pulling out the tape measure.

It’s more of a way to investigate a serious offense without it being something we’ve seen thousands of times before.

— Josiah Smiddy

With that proclamation, Officer Josiah Smiddy stepped in and gave instructions to jot down key points an investigator or officer might see in the big picture before focusing on the finer details. The hands-on learning activity took on a new level as students immersed themselves in the scene.

Smiddy decided to offer this style of class because whenever he asked his students what they wanted to do in the field, they answered detectives or investigators. The fifth grade assistant teacher and law enforcement officer for 11 years wanted to teach a lesson that benefits and engages students.

Maricruz Aguirre, a criminal justice and behavioral science major at Liberal, said she decided to take this course because she wanted a course that offered deeper learning and a hands-on approach. Aguirre said she really enjoyed the investigation because it’s a scenario any officer, in real life, would see.

Aidan Bernhard-Purdy and Cristobal Sanchez debate what might have happened to their crime scene activity after reviewing some of the evidence. Concluding the debate, the two students were able to agree that their crime scene could have been the result of a gang shooting. (Dani Arellano)

Andrea Andrade, a Liberal criminal justice student, said she took the course because her friend asked her to. However, Andrade is glad she did because her first assignment wasn’t just another essay or homework sheet, but a hands-on investigation that consisted of balls, tape measures, tents, and cameras. She said there was so much more than she thought and it wasn’t even over yet.

Smiddy wanted to give the students an investigation other than a “run-of-the-mill murder thriller”, so he did a gangland shot for the students to find out.

Smiddy said: “It’s more of a way to investigate a serious offense without it being something we’ve seen thousands of times before.”

Both Aguirre and Andrade enjoyed the investigation. Aguirre loved taking the photos and understanding why and how these types of surveys work. Andrade enjoyed talking to witnesses, suspects, and officers to get more information about what they had seen.

However, Aguirre had one thing she didn’t like and that was math. Aguirre said one of the most important things she learned and ultimately realized from this ongoing investigation is that she will actually need math for the career she is embarking on.

The officer shared that if there’s one thing his students can take away from this investigation once it’s fully completed, it’s that conducting a proper criminal investigation is a long and complex process that requires the investigator criminal to be more than the stereotypical donut-chewing cop. The Criminal Justice class will solve crime scenes on Tuesdays for the remainder of the semester.

—Dani Arellano contributed to this story.

Mark M. Gagnon