MUNCIE (Nov. 15, 2013) – Ball State University gave the “all clear” order Friday evening after an hours-long search for a reported gunman.
The threat was first reported around 4:15 p.m., bringing a large force of police from multiple agencies to campus. The situation was mired in confusion for several hours, with some reports saying there was a hostage situation. Those reports were inaccurate, according to campus officials. Students were cleared from several buildings, including HP, Lewellen, Rec Center and Worthen Arena and residence halls. Those facilities were secured until police could determine whether a threat existed on campus.
“During that time, university police and other agencies were basically going from room to room in the entire building looking for any kind of threat,” said Tony Proudfoot, a Ball State spokesperson.
“[Police] had assault rifles on them, pointing them around. They told us to lock the doors, turn the lights off, hide in the office until we received further instruction,” said Kevin Thurman, a Ball State graduate student who works in the recreation center. ”
Several people reportedly heard a person yelling about a gun in the Recreation and Wellness Building. Police searched buildings and escorted students out of the rec center. Some social media reports said students were patted down and taken to a different building. As the search continued, Ball State announced that several campus events–including a performance by comedian Jim Gaffigan–would continue as scheduled.
Before 6 p.m., there were reports of a “boom” or “explosion” near the search perimeter. The school later said a service weapon had been accidentally discharged. The school originally said that reports of an explosion were inaccurate.
“Everyone was pretty freaked out. People started screaming, pushing to get inside. It was scary,” said Thurman.
Students reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles near campus during the search. Ball State sent out alerts via text message and social media websites telling students to find a safe location and stay there.
As of 7:30 p.m., the search still continued for any possible gunman. Campus officials said via Twitter that the search was taking so long because the buildings had several rooms and police had a large area to cover. The all-clear order was given around 7:50 p.m.
“We were texting, tweeting and posting on our website initially every five to eight minutes,” said Proudfoot.