Early Thursday morning the Colorado Springs Police Department received a call from an individual who said he was in a parking lot in the 1000 block of Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus, and had a gun, said Campus Safety.
The subject hung up before any other information could be gathered.
CSPD units arrived on campus at about 1 a.m. but did not locate the suspect, said Pat Cunningham, Director of Campus Safety. Cunningham said after an extensive search by both the police and campus officials, the call appeared to be false.
What ensued, however, was a partial lockdown of campus. Students in the Tutt Library and dormitories throughout campus were told to stay inside and keep vigilant.
Students were confused about what was actually happening on campus, and many were told conflicting stories by Campus Safety. Some believed there to be an “active shooter” situation unfolding, according to interviews conducted during the incident.
“While CSPD was attempting to verify whether or not the call was legitimate, campus safety officers responded to the area and asked persons in the library to stay inside until a determination was made,” said Cunningham. “Once the call was cleared, people who were leaving were provided escorts to whenever they were going.”
Students walking home from parties east of campus reported that they were told to stay in the library and wait for the area to be cleared. Students attempting to leave the library were also told to use care in the area of Mathias and the library parking lot.
Campus officials made the decision not to notify the community via the mass e-mail, text and call system that was created and implemented for all-college emergencies.
“The supervisor was constantly assessing so that if it appeared there was an actual threat to the community an emergency mass notification could be sent,” said Cunningham.
In the Mathias lobby, students coming back from parties, studying, and meeting with friends all had different accounts of what they experienced in their efforts to get home.
Freshman Helen Wick was trying to get a ride home from across campus when she first learned of the emergency happening just outside.
“I was in Slocum and I called Campus Safety to get a ride home and they said it was going to be a really long time because of an emergency,” Wick said. “Then there were a lot of cop cars driving around, and then I go down to the lobby and there was one girl bawling uncontrollably. I don’t know if that’s related to it, but it seemed kind of weird.”
Wick chose to walk home and saw officers driving on campus paths and a large campus safety presence.
“We were in the Mathias lounge and a cop came in and asked if we had seen anybody,” she said. “He just said there was a gunman outside the library.”
Others believed shots had potentially been fired.
“I talked to Campus Safety and they said, ‘Just be aware the police are on campus and looking for an active shooter,’ and to be aware of your surroundings,” said Emily Elving. “If there is an active shooter I’m guessing there were shots fired. I probably should have asked more questions…”
Others had heard the same thing.
“He is outside Tutt with a gun right now,” said one student who identified himself to a reporter but asked that his name not be used. “We got a ride from Campus Safety because they said it wasn’t safe.”
Campus Safety and local police are still investigating the emergency and are in search of the suspect who called in the threat. The Catalyst will continue to report on this incident next block with a more comprehensive story. Stay tuned for more.
Jesse Paul and Jack Sweeney
News Editor and Guest Writer