IU Southeast reacts to second campus lockdown within a year

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IU Southeast reacts to second campus lockdown within a year

Eli Lossner, Sports Editor

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IU Southeast went on lockdown just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11, after a report of a potential armed gunman. This was the second lockdown the campus has experienced within a year; the first was Dec. 5, 2013.

Kendra Barnes, communication specialist and editor at IU Southeast, said a student contacted campus police at approximately 12:40 p.m. Thursday and reported seeing a white male, about 5’10, with a shaved head, carrying a camouflaged backpack, with what the student perceived to be the barrel of a gun sticking out.

Campus police officers interviewed the witness and made the decision to lockdown the campus.

At 1:10 p.m., students, faculty and staff began to receive calls and text messages through IU Notify informing them of the situation and advising them to get to a safe place and stay put.

“IU Southeast Alert! An armed person is on campus. Go into nearest room and lock door. Follow instructions from authorities,” the first alert read. At 1:33 p.m., an update was sent out which included a description of the suspect.

Barnes stated that at 1:45 p.m. the suspect was intercepted by police and it was discovered the item in question was a large golf umbrella.

The “all clear” was communicated through IU Notify at 2 p.m. and the campus worked to get back to normal. Classes continued throughout the day, and Chancellor Ray Wallace still delivered his previously scheduled State of the Campus address at 3 p.m.

Catherine Daugherty, criminology and sociology senior, was working at the cafeteria at the time of the first alert.

“We went out there and there was food everywhere,” Daugherty said.  “Our supervisor was yelling for everyone to get into the back.  So everyone was going into the offices and the catering rooms because they have locks on them and are pretty secure.”

Greg Barris, computer science freshman, was also in University Center in the game room.  Barris said the students who were in the game room, about 20, went into a closet that is directly behind the front desk and used things to barricade the door.

“Everybody was being completely quiet,” Barris said.

The afternoon classes had just began when the alerts began to pour in on peoples cell phones.  Valerie Scott, senior lecturer of psychology, was teaching a psychology and culture class in Crestview hall, room 106 when the alert came in.

“Students were puzzled, anxious and a little in disbelief,” Scott said.

She said although some students did not really think there was a real threat, they still took it seriously.  Serious enough, Scott said, that they took the large table in the room and put it in front of the door, which was not able to be locked.  Scott then instructed her students to move against the wall where the door is.

Chancellor Ray Wallace was on campus at the time, but out of his office.  He was notified of the situation and immediately went to the campus police station to help assess the situation.  Wallace said the police reaction was reasonable and not panicked.

Wallace said campus police worked with the New Albany Police Department, along with the Floyd Co. Sheriff’s Department, and Indiana State Police to secure the campus and locate the individual in question.

Wallace said that police reviewed video surveillance of the suspect and were able to identify which building he was in.  They then did a room-by-room search until finally intercepting the suspect.

Even though it turned out to be just an umbrella, Wallace said he was happy that the student reported it.

“The person who brought the alert to us did the right thing,” Wallace said.  “That it turned out to be a false alarm, I don’t care about that.”

Overall, Wallace said he was very pleased with how the situation was handled, but that any time something like this happens, everyone needs to analyze the situation and see if there is anything that could have been done better.

“Obviously we are going to go back and review all of this to see if there were areas where we fell down,” Wallace said.  “But from what I’m hearing, we did pretty well.”

Stay tuned to The Horizon for continued coverage.