Florida School Back to Normal after Report of Gunman

July 24, 2009 - 4:33 PM
Students and staff at the University of South Florida were told to stay indoors Friday after a man called police to say he was on campus with a gun, but authorities never found him and no shots were fired.
Tampa, Fla. (AP) - Students and staff at the University of South Florida were told to stay indoors Friday after a man called police to say he was on campus with a gun, but authorities never found him and no shots were fired.
 
University police got a call about 12:15 p.m. Friday from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, which said a man had called a crisis hot line to say he was in a parking lot next to a campus bioscience building. He said he had a gun and was willing to use it, said Maj. J.D. Withrow, assistant chief of the university police.
 
Authorities swept the area but found no one with a gun.
 
About 15 minutes after the got the call, the university sent a mobile emergency message telling some 55,000 people to stay inside with their doors locked. They were notified an hour-and-a-half later that they could return to their normal activities.
 
Jon Catuccio, who works at the school, said he heard over a loudspeaker that a gunman had been reported at the bioscience building in the heart of campus.
 
He said he got an e-mail with the same information and everyone was "kind of hanging out" and waiting to see what happened.
 
Student Lawrence Stawkowski, 24, saw three helicopters flying around and said an alarm went off every 15 minutes.
 
"I wasn't too afraid," he said. "I was just surprised, a little shocked."
 
The late summer term just ended, so there were fewer students than usual on campus, said Allyson Stanfill, 21, who was stuck inside a lab across the street from the bioscience building.