INDIANAPOLIS — Students at a downtown Indianapolis university campus were holed up in basements and classrooms for more than four hours on Tuesday after police ordered them to seek shelter following reports of a man carrying a gun nearby.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis issued a text alert around 12:55 p.m., about 25 minutes after a student reported seeing a man in a long brown coat carrying a weapon in a campus parking lot near the Indiana University School of Medicine. Two hospitals affiliated with the medical school, University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children, were locked down, as were a nearby high school and the NCAA headquarters.
Police spent hours searching every parking lot and building on campus before issuing an all-clear, signaling that students could leave and classes could resume.
IUPUI Police Capt. Bill Abston said the student who saw the gunman initially thought he was carrying an instrument.
“She went out to her car and saw an open trunk ... and when she got closer she saw it was a long gun,” he said.
He said police received two subsequent sightings but did not find anyone matching the description during their search of the campus.
“We do not feel there's a threat,” Abston said after the alert was lifted.
Kamakshi Sishtla, a lab technician at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said she initially hid in a small, windowless equipment room in the building where she works, which is across the street from where the man first was spotted.
“I thought, ‘Better to be safe than sorry,” Sishtla said.
Cory Olson, a 43-year-old nursing student, said he was in the nursing building when police came in and evacuated the building.
“The police officers sent everybody out. Someone said, ‘Where do we go?’ and he said, ‘Anywhere but here.’”
Some students reported confusion after IUPUI's initial alert referred to a lockdown. Students were still seen leaving campus before the all-clear was issued. Police later said the campus was on “full alert.”
Abston acknowledged there was some confusion over the language, saying: “What we said was seek shelter so people would take that upon themselves.”
Cheyenne Brewer, 20, an English education major, was in the nursing building when the alert was issued but moved to a medical science building on police orders. She said students were allowed to move around within the building but told not to leave.
“We were pretty hungry. It was scary at first,” she said, but added that she didn't fault campus police for the confusion. “I think they did everything they could.”