Update: UNK Police Continue Searching for Threat Caller

By: 10/11 News Email
By: 10/11 News Email

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 11:30 p.m. Sunday a man reported to police that he had a loaded gun on UNK campus and was going to kill himself
  • UNK officials alerted students and put the campus on lockdown
  • Law enforcement searched for the caller, but were unable to locate the man
  • The lockdown was lifted shortly before 3 a.m. Monday

A lockdown was lifted shortly before 3 a.m. Monday, after law enforcement officials searched the University of Nebraska Kearney campus and did not find an alleged gunman.

“This morning, business is campus as usual and just continuing to investigate to find out more information on who made the call,” said Kelly Bartling, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications and Community Relations at UNK.

Around 11:30 Sunday night, UNK sent an alert to students asking them to stay inside and asked community members to stay off the campus.

The e-mail sent to students had the subject line of "Subject with a gun,” and reads as follows:

"A male subject reported to police said he had a loaded fire arm and was going to shoot himself on the University of Nebraska Kearney Campus. The call came in from an emergency phone located by the University Library. At this time we ask all community members to stay off of campus. Those individuals that are on campus stay inside a secure area."

10/11's Sara Geake was on the scene during the lockdown and said she saw as many as seven law enforcement cars near Thomas Hall-- those agencies included UNK Police, Kearney Police and Buffalo County Sheriff's Department.

After the lockdown was lifted, Bartling wrote the following in two separate tweets: "Thanks for your concern and caution this morning. As always if you see or hear anything unusual, call police or 911."

Although the call did not threaten anyone other than the caller himself, Bartling said it was necessary for police to act as though there was an active threat toward the university’s students and faculty.

“Anytime there's a threat or a sighting of a gun on campus, it's a serious issue,” Bartling said.

Students who were in the library said police were calm and thorough in their search.

“They kind of had everybody stand in a long line to check their bags, make sure we didn't have any weapons in there,” said UNK senior Brian Ellis, who had been studying in the library when he found out about the threat.

Students said they were allowed to come and go during the lockdown as needed, and those who lived on campus were provided police escorts if they felt unsafe.

“They made sure we kind of left in one big group, the safety in numbers kind of thing,” Ellis said.

But some students said they thought the whole incident was a hoax.

“I just thought it was a prank maybe, or maybe someone out there was making trouble, but that they weren't actually armed. So I guess I didn't feel threatened by it,” said Ellis.

Others said they’re unsettled, even though no gunman was found.

“It settled my concerns in a way because I knew obviously they checked, but it didn't because just the fact that happened here. You don't think those things happen, not here in little towns,” said UNK senior Dayana Rodriguez.

Sergeant Dennis Byrne of the Kearney Police Department said authorities has interviewed a person of interest, who was subsequently released pending further investigation. Bryne said that man had also made a call to police around 7:30 Monday morning, claiming that he was being held hostage by armed subjects in his apartment. Police said they found that claim to be false.

Officials said as of Monday afternoon, there is no ongoing threat to the university.

“It's hard to say what the motivation was and the true intent of the person who made the call. We don't have any reason to believe that it was a prank, or on the converse, to believe that he did intend to carry out his threat, so there's no way of knowing until we identify the person,” Bartling said.

Kearney Police Department said they are working with UNK Police to investigate the incident and that they are still a long way from making an arrest.


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