A message of "shots fired" and "suspect is currently at large" sent students and teachers at a metro Detroit university into emergency mode on Tuesday when there was actually no need to panic.
Oakland University police mistakenly sent a voicemail message during a planned test of the emergency alert system, OUPD Chief Samuel Lucido told the Oakland Post. Lucido also told the campus newspaper the mistake was not because of human error.
Many of the 20,000 students who signed up for emergency alerts from the school located 25 miles north of Detroit got this prerecorded message through a text from the OUPD at about 1 p.m. ET:
"The Oakland University Police Department has received reports of shots fired on campus. The suspect is currently at large, and the campus is on lockdown."
A woman, who did not want to be identified, told Yahoo News her daughter, a freshman at Oakland University, texted her during the incident. "I'm OK Mom," she wrote.
The surprised mother said she was concerned about the random message from her daughter in the middle of the school day. But her fears were calmed after she learned about the false alarm.
"I was a little worried, yeah," the mother said.
An editorial in the Oakland Post explained the panic and confusion caused by the errant message. "We heard reports of classes going on lockdown and saw students' reactions on social media websites. We called our parents to inform them we were still alive."
Lindsay Moultrie wrote on the Oakland Post's Facebook page. "My mom got the call and called me on campus but I didn't answer. She was freaking out (that) I was shot till I saw the call and called her back."
Students, faculty and parents were informed a few minutes later by text, social media and the OU website that the shooting message was a mistake, school officials say.
'We regret the error and any confusion and inconvenience it may have caused, and we are working to ensure this mistake does not happen again," Ted Montgomery, director of media relations at OU, said in a statement.
Oakland University police and university officials are investigating the cause of the errant message.