The alert went out at around 12:30 p.m. after a female on campus reported seeing a long gun resembling a rifle or shotgun in an open car trunk. She was heading to her car, parked in a lot at 1145 W. Vermont St., when she saw a man standing next to an open trunk containing what looked like a musical instrument case. She tried to get a closer look to identify the instrument but told police she realized it was a gun.
The IU Notify alert system sent out messages via text, email and Twitter that campus was on alert. The message instructed people on campus to seek shelter, but campus was never on an official lock down. Those inside campus buildings were allowed to exit but were told to do so at their own risk.
IUPUI students, employees and IU Health employees were seen walking around campus throughout the afternoon while the alert was in effect. Police were on campus clearing buildings of threats, but did not intend for people to leave those buildings until a campus-wide all clear was issued around 5 p.m.
“To my knowledge, we were going through buildings and looking for anything suspicious,” IUPUI Police Captain Bill Abston said. “I think there was some miscommunication. Our intent was not to have people leave buildings. That would’ve been contrary to our alert.”
During the alert, police received two additional reports of suspicious activity on campus. They responded to a call at the Nursing Building, but Abston said he wasn’t aware of the nature of the call. There was no threat found.
Police later received a report of a man carrying a rifle at the intersection of Blackford Street and Indiana Avenue. Police did not locate any threat in that area.
Guards in orange reflective vests with hand-held radios stood watch at the entrance of several buildings on campus, including the Campus Center and the IU Natatorium. They let people exit the buildings but would not let anyone, including employees returning from breaks, inside.
A guard at the Campus Center would not let anyone into the building but would let people out. A guard at the IU Simon Cancer Center would only let those with IU Health identification badges into the building.
Despite the confusion, Abston said he was happy with the response.
“We sent out the alert, realized people were leaving buildings, and we re-sent the alert,” he said. “Our intent was not to have people leave buildings.”
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