Police Say No Gunman On University Of Rhode Island Campus
Police have ended a lockdown at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston and say there was never a gunman.
The campus was put on lockdown according to WJAR TV around 11 am on Thursday as police respond to the report and conducted a room-by-room search.The station also reports that a Nerf gun was found on campus by police. No gunshots were ever heard.
State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell tells the Providence Journal-Bulletin reports it is Zombie Week on the campus south of Providence and the incident "may be related to zombie week at URI, when lots of kids have Nerf guns."
O'Donnell told the paper, "The person who reported this clearly thought it was legitimate," he said. "Based on the atmosphere in this country with school violence, she was in tune, rang the bell. The person who made those comments did not do the right thing."
State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell told WPRI TV "There is no evidence at all to indicate there was a firearm on campus at any time, and there is no evidence to support that there was an active shooter at anytime," O'Donnell said shortly before the lockdown was lifted. "We want to make sure that's clear."
Earlier, State Police in a statement explained "A phone call was made in the last hour from the URI campus reporting an active shooter on campus. URI, South Kingstown Police, and State Police were dispatched to respond to the situation. At this time, we have no further evidence to support the report and are responding to the incident."
One student says she was in a physiology class in the Chaffee Science Center when someone sounding scared started to scream, "You're a nice guy! You're a nice guy!" and the professor told all the students to run.
WJAR TV reports that a student says she clearly heard someone shout, "I have a gun." Student Laura Johnson told the Patch of Johnston, Rhode Island that students began running out of the room with several students being trampled. “I just panicked and ran out of the building,” said student Kassandra Burke.
Tori Danielson tells The Associated Press she heard no gunshots Thursday morning and never saw a gun. She says there were more than 350 in the classroom at Chafee Hall.
The school in South Kingstown has told people via their website to seek shelter and stay where they are.The site crashed from heavy usage.
The school also canceled classes for the day.
The Associated Press contributed to this report