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5 May 2010

Student with toy gun apprehended on campus

After receiving an anonymous phone call reporting a male student with a gun on campus, UM Police apprehended a film student entering the Mahoney/Pearson Dining Hall Wednesday afternoon.

The student, whose name the Police Department is choosing not to disclose, was carrying three toy guns that had been covered in black paint to make them appear more realistic. The student was using the fake guns for a school project.

An Emergency Notification Network message was sent to the student body at 2:12 via text message, giving the all clear.

The message was sent after the student was stopped and said, “UM Police handled report of man w toy gun. The man is in custody. The campus safe.”

The late notification from the UM Police Department left many students wondering what exactly had happened and why a message had not been sent sooner.

“I got a text about an hour after I saw police cars all over campus. I received an e-mail even later,” said Danny Parra, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Latin American studies. “I had no idea why there were cops everywhere until well after I left campus.”

According to UM Chief of Police David Rivero, the all clear was the only message sent because the police response to the situation was faster than the ENN response.

“We were going to send an original warning, but the police apprehended the student so quickly we ended up just sending an FYI saying ‘If you saw the police, it was because of this,’” said Rivero.

What students saw were police officers on the University Green with assault rifles, ordering students to remain indoors.

“I see why, with some incidents like the Virginia Tech shooting, such a response would be called for. It’s good they were ready just in case, but they probably caused more panic than anything else,” said Michael Alegro, a junior majoring in accounting.

The student will not be pressed with criminal charges and is now in the custody of the Dean of Students.

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