Questions raised about confusion around IUPUI gunman alert
There are some serious questions this about the campus confusion during a four-hour lockdown at IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis Tuesday.
Students and faculty were ordered to stay inside IUPUI buildings and inside Riley Hospital after someone reported seeing a man with a gun on campus. No one was hurt and no gunman was found.
But the tension was high as dozens of police officers checked every inch of campus. Hours into the lockdown of the IUPUI campus, armed State Capitol Police could be seen searching the hallways of Cavanaugh Hall.
"We really didn't get a whole lot of notification," said IUPUI faculty member Gail Edelman. "In the classroom, we turned on the TV and watched what was going on from the TV."
From the beginning, information for some people seemed scarce.
"Our lab instructor didn't really know anything until she walked in the room and we told her," said Skylar Nelson, a nursing student.
That was on the fourth floor of the nursing building, where 100 nursing students waited out the ordeal inside a windowless room.
Cyndey McIntyre said, "After two hours of being trapped in a room, everybody was like, 'Okay, we got to get out of here.' And they gave us a choice - either move everybody up to the fourth floor, down to the basement, or outside."
"I was freaking out a little when I heard or got the text that said 'man with long gun on campus'," said Nelson.
She said their fears were amplified by social media reports that would later be proven false that put the alleged gunman in their building.
"We had heard that he was last seen at the nurses' building. We were, like, 'Did they lock the building down?'" said Nelson.
Confusion to what was actually happening on campus was made worse by the easy coming and going of some students in and out of buildings. Student Ben Powell was going about business as usual.
"We heard on the news we were allowed to leave at our own free will. I'm on my way to another class now," Powell said.
Another student, Lindsey Luster, said, "There was an alert out saying if you drove or took a bus, you could leave freely. But if you walked, you would probably get stopped."
Official tweets from IUPUI said "lockdown" was a poor choice of words. But as we watched armed police search the hallways, students were being told to remain on high alert and remain in a safe shelter.
Outside, some people, like Josh Penley, were moving on.
"I'm surprised they, like, let people go out if they wanted to, with how serious it has been lately with all of these gun incidents around the country," said Penley.
It just may have been the heightened sense of awareness that sparked the "lockdown" in the first place, when a student thought she saw a rifle in the trunk of another student's car.
"From what we can tell, the gun never left the trunk of the car," said IUPUI Police Capt. Bill Abston.
Smart phones were the method most students received and spread the information, but it was also smart phones and social media that escalated some of the information.