INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - - No arrests were made and no man with a gun was ever found while IUPUI was under a four-hour campus alert Tuesday afternoon. The alert status was lifted just before 5 p.m.
It was around 1 p.m. when the university sent alerts to students and faculty telling them to seek shelter. Due to the nature of the campus, police officials said a "lockdown" is difficult to accomplish, and they were simply urging people to stay inside a building or seek shelter.
IUPUI police Capt. Bill Abston said a female student told IUPUI police that she first saw the suspect around 12:30 p.m. in a parking lot near the School of Denistry.
"She went out to her car and saw an open trunk and saw what she thought was a music case. She is interested in music, so she was curious what instrument the person had. When she got closer, she realized it was a long gun, a shotgun or a rifle. That's when she called us," Abston said.
Abston said the man is described as a 6-foot white man with a long brown coat. Abston said the man was seen next to a green or gray vehicle although it is unclear if the alleged suspect was in a car or not.
After her report to police, investigators began searching more than 30 campus buildings one by one, classroom by classroom. In the meantime, two more reports came in about a man with a gun at two other locations. Police found no person with a gun at those locations or the original one.
Sarah Arnold, who was attending class in Coleman Hall, said she was on edge.
"They came and got us out of class and told us all to go to the basement," Arnold said. It was tense because we really didn't know what was going on. We didn't really get a whole lot of updates of what was happening even though it was close to where we were."
More than 50 police officers associated with the university, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indiana State Police were on the urban campus investigating. IUPUI Police officials said after the alert status was lifted, they still believed the student's original information about the man was credible.
Abston denied claims from some students and parents that the University had overreacted.
"For people to take precautions, they need to know what's going on. We had a report that someone saw somebody with a weapon. We wanted to alert people to be safe, to seek shelter and give us the time to investigate it, which we did. Our job is to keep people safe, and I think we responded as such," he said.
IU emergency management was tweeting updates Tuesday afternoon and giving students safety advice.
Several nearby facilities locked down as a result of the possible threat. IU Health University Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and the NCAA headquarters all locked down as a result.
All afternoon activities and scheduled media events at Riley and at IU Health were also canceled.
Students at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School were dismissed at 2:45 p.m. They were on lockdown starting around 1:15 p.m. All extra curricular activities were canceled.
Sarah Blanchard, an IUPUI dental student said she felt safer knowing police and staff was looking into the situation.
"I was a little apprehensive because it is not unusual for tragic and violent crimes to happen on campuses," she said. "I felt confident within minutes of receiving the IUPUI alert administrators were taking steps to secure the building."
Blanchard said she wishes she had more updates from the school.
"We don't know what time he was seen and where he was seen," she said. "We knew he was moving around somewhere. I felt safe in the school but it was an intimidating situation."
A 24-Hour News 8 crew on the scene says students are walking around campus despite the lockdown.
A similar incident happened on Ball State University's campus last week.
BSU warned students around 8 a.m. Monday to stay in a safe place after a man with a gun was reported north of Bracken Library.
University police found no one with a weapon and made no arrests. The campus was secured and students were told they could return to normal activity.
Arnold said she and her friends were beyond relieved.
"The cops came down with their guns and said that they were going to clear Coleman Hall and then we could all leave," Arnold said.
Tuesday night, the IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz released a statement on the incident:
These officers responded quickly and conducted a thorough investigation to ensure the safety of the campus," Bantz said. "I am pleased the incident ended without harm to any member of the campus community or visitors to IUPUI
Bantz also thanked IUPUI faculty, students, and staff for their compliance during the situation
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