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Five-hour lockdown but no gunman found at Virginia Tech

The US state university was hailed for its response to reports of a gunman on campus. In the end no such person was found.

Virginia Tech campers walk into Dietrick Hall after a lockdown of the campus was lifted at the school.
Virginia Tech campers walk into Dietrick Hall after a lockdown of the campus was lifted at the school.
Image: Steve Helber/AP/Press Association Images

REPORTS OF A gunman on campus led to the most extensive lockdown and search of the US state university Virginia Tech since a massacre in which 33  people died four years ago, but in the end no gunman was found.

The campus was shut down for five hours following a report from three teens attending a summer camp who told police they saw a man walking across the university grounds with what may have been a handgun covered in cloth.

Given that in 2007, the campus was the scene of a grim shooting when Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on students and staff, killing 33 people, law enforcement officials and university staff took few chances.

An emergency siren went off and the campus was locked down with people urged to stay indoors as police officers searched around 15o buildings, according to the New York Times.

But at a press conference at 11am local time, police said there were no further sightings, anything suspicious or any more information regarding this person.

And in the end, despite a photofit illustration being issued, no gunman was found and the emergency was lifted yesterday afternoon at around 3pm (8pm Irish Time).

There was near universal praise for the way in which the situation was handled four-years on from the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in modern US history.

“Every one of our alert systems worked without a hitch,” Larry Hincker told the LA Times.

The university’s first football team practice of the pre season may have been delayed for an hour but the coach Frank Beamer had no complaints:

“We just moved things back an hour. The kids adapted to the deal. I thought everything went good,” he told the Associated Press which added that the players passed time by pumping iron in the weight room.

The rapid response was in sharp contrast to 2007, when it was only two-hours after the first bullets were fired that a campus wide alert went out.

Yesterday, following a call placed at 9.09am, the campus was shut down by 9.47am and a bulletin appeared on the Virginia Tech website warning people to stay indoors.

Shortly afterwards, a description of the man was issued with people told to be on the lookout for a man who was around 6 feet tall, with light brown hair, wearing a blue-and-white striped shirt, gray shorts and brown sandals. In the end he was never found.

The Christian Post reports how people on campus took to Twitter to react to the lockdown.

Information was shared along with prayers and even jokes as it became apparent the situation was not nearly as serious as that which occured in 2007.

Read: Virginia Tech campus locked down after reports of gunman >

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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