Professor's prop gun causes security scare at UMSL

4:41 PM, Nov 9, 2010   |    comments
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(University of Missouri St. Louis) KSDK -- A campus-wide emergency alert frightens students and faculty at University of Missouri - St. Louis, but the report turned out to be a mistake.

The text to all cell numbers and e-mail addresses on UMSL's records, said in part: a man with a gun seen in Lucas Hall, secure in place, don't come to campus.  That was enough to cause hearts to pound and fear to set in, according to students who spoke with NewsChannel 5 Tuesday.

But school officials said what happened was that a student saw a man with a six-foot-long musket-type rifle coming off an elevator.  Her father is a professor there.  She texted him.  He called police and they swarmed the building, going room to room, while the text alert went out.

Within 30 minutes, though, police figured out that the gunman was actually a history professor, who had brought in an antique gun as a prop for his class.  Something he does every year.





"When I found out that he was on the same floor, the same building, my heart stopped, so I'm glad it's over with," said Allie Hogan, who is a sophomore.  "I can go home."

Although a text to cancel the alert went out after about 10 minutes, some students are still concerned.

"It was good that the system works but it needs to be more prompt," said Doris Dukes, who is a senior.

As pointed out, there was a 17 minute lag time between the gun spotting and the alert.  Police said they were working on confirmation during that time.  "It's better for people to know than not to know because the difference is, if it's a false alarm, you can easily text back and say it was a false alarm, but you can't text somebody back and they already got shot," Dukes added.





The campus emergency alert system was put in place just one week before this incident.










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