Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) police and university officials met Wednesday afternoon to consider their response 24 hours earlier to a report of gunman spotted on campus.
The alert, through text messages, e-mails and phone calls, advised students and staff within 10 minutes of a 911 call that a woman spotted the gun in the trunk of a car in the parking lot at Barnhill and Vermont streets. A copy of the alert follows:
“Officers responded and put a perimeter onto the parking lot,” said IUPUI Capt. Bill Abston, as he wheeled his patrol car down an access street near the lot. “We had an officer in the adjacent parking garage that when the run came out, he got out of his car and was overlooking the parking lot that we responded to.”
For the next four hours, IUPUI officers, and officers from IMPD, the state police and capitol police, searched the campus for a man matching the description of the driver of the car.
“We’re telling people to seek shelter, so, if that’s a decision the want to make, then that’s their decision,” said Abston. “Then we provided several updates to seek shelter until we provide an all clear.”
Abston said officers searched several buildings floor-by-floor.
“We go through and we talk to people, ‘have you seen anything suspicious?’ We see how people are doing,” Abston said. “If we walk by an office and they’re conducting business as normal, well, we can use that as cues and just our interaction with people, we can get a lot of information if things are okay.”
With less than ten on-duty officers at his disposal, Abston said the alert was called off after the last building was searched.
“We don’t put a time limit on it,” he said. “What we rather look at is, are we doing it effectively? Are we doing it thoroughly? So, whatever time it takes, we want to be satisfied.”
Students boarded buses for classes once again on West Michigan Street outside Ball Residential Hall.
“I think they did a great job,” said freshman Carlee Westfall, who spent the afternoon locked in her dorm room. “They were letting us know right away.”
Abston said police and school officials will compare notes on communication and coordination of the alert response.
In 1979, Abston was involved in the arrest of a man who fatally wounded a co-worker in the Medical Sciences building on campus.
That man was armed with a rifle and his gunfire set fire to the building.