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Porchlight to strengthen security at shelter after shooting

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Porchlight entrance

MADISON (WKOW) -- The organization that runs an east side Madison homeless shelter is enacting new security features in the wake of an attempted homicide at their shelter.

Porchlight executive director Karla Thennes announced new security measures for the First Street homeless shelter Wednesday, as the organization looks to bring peace of mind to guests.

In a Wednesday morning press conference, Thennes pointed out that this is the first instance of gun violence at the shelter in more than 30 years. She said Porchlight plans on bringing on additional private security to ensure safety for both staff and guests.

Security will not be armed, Thennes said, but they are trained in de-escalation.

"We are enhancing our security measures with a private security firm that will also include screening for weapons upon entry with the guests as an added safety measure for our guests and staff," Thennes said.

She said Porchlight hopes to have new private security procedures in place as early as Wednesday night.

Thennes said the victim was struck by two or three shots, but is currently expected to survive after two surgeries. Both the victim and alleged shooter, Ronald Stephens, were well-known in the shelter before the incident; Thennes did not comment as to whether either had caused problems in the past.

"We are increasing measures, that is our number-one goal," Thennes said. "We've spent the last 36 hours talking about nothing else - how can we make this experience for guests and every staff person and every volunteer who enters this facility - to be safe."

Peter Culver

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