The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

78° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No gunman found in 3-hour search

Tyler+Baker+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0A
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat

After police shut down several areas on campus Friday in response to a 911 call about a gunman reportedly seen in the Administration building, some members of the UA community are examining emergency response procedures.

The 911 call prompted the lockdown and evacuation of the Administration building. Officers also evacuated the Student Union Memorial Center, the Modern Languages building and the UA Mall.

The call came from a third-party operator to the University of Arizona Police Department at 4:52 p.m. indicating that there was a man with a gun strapped to his chest and carrying a rifle, said Sgt. Joe Bermudez, a spokesman for UAPD. The caller also said a shooting in the Administration building had occurred.

UAPD and Tucson Police Department officers began securing the area and sent out the first of a series of alerts via text message and email just after 5 p.m.

The first alert went out through the UAlert system around the same time police arrived in the area, said Joel Hauff, interim director of Arizona Student Unions. Hauff said police officers instructed everyone inside the union to leave.

Campus police can do a “global lock” for facilities that are managed electronically, Hauff said, and UAPD was able to lock down all the doors within the student union via the computer system.

However, when the building went into lockdown, the system still allowed people with swipe access to enter using their CatCards, which resulted in some employees showing up for shifts to “card in” after union employees had been evacuated to outside the UA Bookstore, Hauff said.

“It’s little things like that that we learn as we go that will allow us to improve the way in which we respond,” Hauff said. “I would imagine in any situation we will always walk away and learn something that we could do a little bit better.”

No shots were heard and no unusual activity was seen exiting the Administration building, Bermudez said.

Officers searched the Administration building floor by floor and room by room. The TPD Bomb Squad and the Pima County Regional Bomb Squad were called to assist with the search as a precautionary measure, Bermudez said.

State Rep. Ethan Orr, who was on the third floor of the Administration building at the time of the call, said he waited in an office and called UAPD to report his location. When Orr received the text to evacuate, he and five people exited.

“You just don’t know. Every noise could be the police clearing the building, it could be a man with a rifle or it could be a random noise,” Orr said. “You just don’t know.”

The search ended at about 8:05 p.m., Bermudez said. Officers did not find a gunman or any signs of a shooting.

Around that time, a team of student union staff were allowed to enter the food court side of the building and turn off any fryers or ovens that had been left on during the evacuation, Hauff said.

All restrictions were lifted and the student union reopened shortly after 9 p.m., about four hours after the 911 call.

Early in the search, authorities said there were multiple 911 calls about a shooter, but later changed the statement to say there had only been one reported sighting of a gunman.

UAPD officers declined to say whether or not the call was a hoax, adding that the investigation is ongoing.

More to Discover
Activate Search