Police cars lined the streets as tape was rolled out, rifles were cocked and K-9 units were deployed as police surrounded the Student Recreation and Wellness Center after reports of a possible gunman.
“I was freaking out a little bit,” Meghan Pea, a freshman elementary education major, said. “My heart was beating really fast when we were going up around the hallway, even though there was no one around and there was a bunch of police officers guarding the hallway.”
Students filed into the streets, emotional and confused on what was really going on. Authorities searched the building and students, looking for clues. Two hours into the search at about 6:30 p.m., authorities released most students and started a second search of the building.
Despite the number of officers in the building, a graduate assistant said it didn’t feel completely safe.
“You’re walking through a building like [the Health and Physical Activity Building] and it’s got doorways, windows to people’s offices, you don’t know,” said Dan Tracy, a graduate assistant in sports administration. “I mean, someone can be sneaky.”
Tracy had heard the person yell “gun” and immediately closed his third-floor office door and shut off his lights at about 4:30 p.m.
“I left the computer monitor on and kept the lights off and got down, and I prayed a little bit,” he said. “I texted my dad to say ‘Hey, don’t be alarmed.’”
About 10 minutes later, Tracy heard the same voice yell again.
“It was audible,” he said. “It didn’t sound like it was a prank.”
Tracy said police escorted him and others around his office around 6 p.m.
“They were locked and loaded, checking corners, just like you see on ‘Law and Order,’” he said. “It was kind of what you’d hope to expect when a situation like that happens.”
Pea said police evacuated her, she was still startling by the situation.
“It still freaked me out a little bit because until we opened the door and got out, people still said, ‘Walk fast, we gotta get outta here,’” she said.
Police were following reports of someone with a gun in the building, though no shooter has been found. Police from local, state and federal agencies swarmed campus on a partial lockdown Friday afternoon.
“I didn’t know how serious it was,” Pea said. “Then when I saw the people across the street looking at us, I was like ‘OK, we’re OK. We just got outta the building and everything’s fine.’”