Central Connecticut State University locked down its campus for more than three hours Monday after reports that a person carrying a sword and gun had been spotted at the school. But by midafternoon, an “all clear” was given, three people were in custody, and police said they were investigating the possibility it was a Halloween hoax.
CCSU Police Chief Chris Cervoni said three "persons of interest," including at least one student, had been taken into custody. Surveillance video showed one entering a residence hall with what appeared to be something "looking like a sword" and a "possible handgun," Cervoni said. No charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.
The three were taken into custody on the fourth floor of James Hall without incident, he said. No weapons were recovered, and authorities were looking into the possibly it "could've been a Halloween costume."
"We determined there was no real threat to the students, faculty and staff here," Cervoni said.
"It wasn't a prank because there was concern and alarm," he said, adding that the men in custody were "being cooperative."
No one was injured.
"In this situation, our prayers were answered," CCSU president Jack Miller said. "Certainly there have been many situations that didn't conclude this way."
A tense afternoon for the school's 11,000 students began shortly after noon, when New Britain, Conn., police said they received 911 calls reporting that a suspicious man, believed to be a student, was carrying "a weapon or weapons" near campus.
"Campus emergency," CCSU wrote on its Twitter feed around 12:15 p.m. "Seek shelter. Lock doors, close windows. We will communicate when we have more info. This is not a drill. #ccsu"
CCSU officials also issued similar alerts over the campus loudspeakers.
Police and SWAT team members swarmed the 55-acre New Britain, Conn., campus, but quickly focused on James Hall, a dormitory on the campus' southwestern side. Police dogs could be seen entering the building.
About 400 students live in the residence hall.
According to the school, officials were treating it as an "active shooter" situation as police searched for "a suspicious person carrying a gun."
A spokesman for the school stressed that there were no shots fired, but at the time would not elaborate on the nature of the threat.
According to one student who was interviewed by WFSB, police told him they were looking for a black male wearing camouflage pants and possibly a mask. The person was said to be armed, the student said police told him.
Another CCSU student said he saw a person matching that description get off a city bus and head in the direction of the campus carrying what appeared to be a samurai sword on his back. "I figured he was wearing a Halloween costume," the student said. "I just went and parked my car and went to class."
The school issued a series of updates on its Twitter feed throughout the lockdown, but did not initially elaborate on the nature of the threat.
Campus emergency. Seek shelter. Lock doors, close windows. We will communicate when we have more info.This is not a drill. #ccsu— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
ALERT: Students please stay inside your buildings until instructed to do otherwise. This is not a drill! #CCSU— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
Everyone on #CCSU's campus MUST stay indoors and find shelter. This is not a drill!— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
Campus police are continuing the investigation. As of right now, stay indoors, stay safe. #ccsu— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
Reports of a suspicious person carrying a gun has been released. All on #CCSU campus need to stay indoors and stay put until further notice.— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
CCSU latest: Stay sheltered in place. Students of James Hall are in Barrows Hall being questioned by police ...— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
Classes for the rest of the day have been canceled— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
#CCSU no classes or events this afternoon or tonight. Police have one suspect in custody, but have not sounded the all clear as of 3 p.m.— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
The sounds that you just heard was campus police indicating that the campus is ALL CLEAR #ccsu. You may now leave the buildings.— CCSU (Central) (@CCSU) November 4, 2013
Shaken students took to social media to update friends, family and the media during the lockdown.
Please do not look out your windows! Stay away from windows and doors. We will send updates as we receive them! #ccsu— James Hall (@JamesHallCCSU) November 4, 2013