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Sad news for our community: UPDATE 2/27 - 4:45. p.m. -- To the Frostburg State University Community from President Gibralter
02/14/2014

Update (4:45 p.m., Feb. 27, 2014): To the Frostburg State University Community from President Gibralter:

I wanted to give the Frostburg State University Community an update on developments in the investigation of the fire on Feb. 14 that took the life of our student, Lateef Gazal. Earlier today, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office, while still trying to determine the exact cause of the fire, has issued a finding that the blaze began in the kitchen and was likely accidental.

I particularly want to commend the leadership of students, faculty, staff and community members for their response to this tragedy. This community has rallied to the support of the displaced students and Lateef’s family, worked with his family to organize the incredibly moving memorial service in Lateef’s memory last week, and is taking steps to improve the safety and fire education of everyone in this community. Here are some developments in these areas:

  • So far, nearly $11,000 has been raised by numerous individuals and organizations, with more anticipated. I want to commend, in particular, student Matt Cookus, who led a private online fund-raising effort, and United Campus Ministries Chaplain Cindy Zirlott, who has been coordinating relief efforts. For more information, visit www.unitedcampusministryatfsu.org/fire_victims_donations/ or call 301-687-7490.
  • Students involved in SafeRide and SGA, as well as the University Police and Joseph Crawford of Gianni’s Pizza, worked together to purchase and distribute more than 200 smoke-detector batteries to SafeRide users last weekend.
  • The State Fire Marshal has contacted me to discuss continuing to develop a partnership with us and the City of Frostburg in promoting a fire safe community. We will keep you informed of those developments.

Our community, and especially those who knew Lateef best, are still grappling with this loss, and I ask all of you to offer your support in the days and weeks to come. Know also that counseling is available to anyone who might wish it from FSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Call 301-687-4234 at any time to be put in touch with a counselor.

Finally, I ask all of you to go home tonight and test your smoke detectors. If you live in a rental property, know that the City of Frostburg requires smoke detectors in every apartment, and landlords are required to fix defective devices immediately. The Fire Marshal also recommends that you plan ahead to determine two escape routes from each room of your home.

 

Update (9:30 a.m., Feb. 21, 2014)

The Frostburg State University community gathered to honor the memory of student Lateef Gazal in a service of music, readings and remembrances, followed by a candlelit vigil, on Thursday, Feb. 20. The service can be viewed until March 7 at this link:

http://www.frostburg.edu/lateef-gazal-memorial/

Counseling is available to anyone who might wish it. Call 301-687-4234 to be put in touch with a counselor from FSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

FSU is working with United Campus Ministries to be a clearing house for campus efforts to assist in meeting their needs, and those of Lateef’s family. Check with Chaplain Cindy Zirlott at 301-687-7490 or c.zirlott@frostburg.edu if you or your group would like to assist, or for any other questions. Financial contributions may be made securely at www.unitedcampusministryatfsu.org/fire_victims_donations/ or by check made out to United Campus Ministry at FSU, with “For Fire Victims” in the memo line and sent to United Campus Ministry, c/o Rev. Cindy Zirlott, Hitchins 308, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532.

 

Update (10:15 a.m., Feb. 18, 2014):

The Frostburg State University community will gather to honor the memory of student Lateef Gazal in a service of music, readings and remembrances on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 8 p.m. in the Alice R. Manicur Assembly Hall in the Lane University Center.

A banner for condolence messages will be available before and after the service for people to sign.

The service will be streamed live. It can be watched at this link: http://www.frostburg.edu/lateef-gazal-memorial/.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.

 

Update (12:00 p.m., Feb. 17, 2014):

To the Frostburg State University Community:

As I’m sure most of you are aware, we lost a member of our FSU community last Friday in a devastating fire. Lateef Gazal was a senior in our Business Administration major and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Lateef lived in Bowie and was a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity; the Marketing Association; and the African Student Association. Dr. Sudhir Singh, adviser to Delta Sigma Pi, said Lateef was a wonderfully warm and cheerful individual who was always the first to chip in for any of the group’s activities. I’m sure his thoughts are echoed by many others who knew Lateef.

We offer our deepest condolences to Lateef’s family and friends, and we ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers and offer them support in these difficult days to come. An on-campus memorial is in the planning stages; we will forward information as it becomes available.

I would also like to convey a message from Dr. Ahmad Tootoonchi, dean of the College of Business:

“All of us at the College of Business are truly saddened for the tragic loss of our beloved student, Lateef Gazal. Lateef was one of our best and brightest, and will be missed tremendously. He was enthusiastic, energetic, and highly regarded by faculty, students, and staff of our college.

On behalf of all of us at the College of Business, I express our deepest Condolences to the family and friends of Lateef.”

There were three other students who were displaced by the fire. The staff of Student and Educational Services have been working with them to provide them rooms and meals, as well as to determine what other needs they have.

FSU is working with United Campus Ministries to be a clearing house for campus efforts to assist in meeting their needs, and those of Lateef’s family. Check with Chaplain Cindy Zirlott at 301-687-7490 or c.zirlott@frostburg.edu if you or your group would like to assist, or for any other questions. Financial contributions may be made securely at www.unitedcampusministryatfsu.org/fire_victims_donations/ or by check made out to United Campus Ministry at FSU, with “For Fire Victims” in the memo line and sent to United Campus Ministry, c/o Rev. Cindy Zirlott, Hitchins 308, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532.

Counseling is available to anyone who might wish it. Call 301-687-4234 to be put in touch with a counselor from FSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services. I ask the University community to look out for one another as we try to come to terms with this loss.

We are still awaiting a report from the Maryland State Fire Marshal as to the cause of the fire, as well as official confirmation from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Fire Marshal’s office asked us to share fire safety information, which can be found here: www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/NewsAndMedia/NFPA-Off-Campus-Safety-Checklist.pdf.

 

Update (1:50 p.m., Feb. 15, 2014): 

The following message was sent by FSU President Jonathan Gibralter:

To the Frostburg State University community,

We have received a tentative identification of person who passed away in yesterday morning’s fire on Bowery Street, although the official confirmation of his identity will be made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

We believe the deceased to be, as we feared, one of our students. His name was Lateef Gazal, and he was a senior in our Business Administration major. We offer our deepest condolences to Lateef’s family and friends, and we ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers and offer them support in these difficult days to come.

Lateef lived in Bowie and was a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity; the Marketing Association; and the African Student Association.

As we determine his family's wishes, we will forward information about any memorials that may be planned, including any on campus.

A lot of interest has been expressed in ways to help the surviving victims of this fire, and Student and Educational Services is working to coordinate efforts. We will update the campus as information becomes available.

I have also attached some fire safety information that I ask you to review at the request of the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office, which is investigating the fire.

Counseling is available to anyone who might wish it. Call 301-687-4234 to be put in touch with a counselor from FSU's Counseling and Psychological Services. I ask the University community to look out for one another as we try to come to terms with the loss of one of our cherished students.

 

(Feb. 14, 2014, 2:45 p.m.)

We are saddened to inform you that a fire on Bowery Street early this morning left one person dead and three others displaced. The name of the victim is being withheld until positive identification has been made at the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office, and the next of kin has been notified.

The three persons who were displaced are students, and they are now being housed in a residence hall on campus.

As we learn more from fire and police officials, we will share updates with the campus.

Please keep all involved in your thoughts and prayers, especially the individuals affected and their loved ones, and the first-responders at the scene.

Counseling is available to anyone who might wish it. Call 301-687-4234 to be put in touch with a counselor from FSU's Counseling and Psychological Services.

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu