BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech was locked down Thursday when three children attending a summer camp said they saw a man holding what looked like a gun, an unsettling report on the campus where a 2007 massacre left 33 people dead.
The university issued an alert on its website at 9:37 a.m. Thursday telling students and employees to stay inside and secure doors.
The children said they saw the man walking fast toward the volleyball courts, carrying what might have been a handgun covered by some type of cloth. Police swarmed the area but said they could not find a gunman matching their description.
An alert on the school's website said the gunman was reported near Dietrick Hall, a three-story dining facility steps away from the dorm where the first shootings took place in the 2007 rampage.
Federal authorities fined the school in March after ruling that administrators violated campus safety law by waiting too long to notify staff and students about a potential threat after two students were shot to death April 16, 2007, in West Ambler Johnston Hall, a dorm near the dining facility.
An email alert went out more than two hours later that day, about the time student Seung-Hui Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more students and faculty and himself. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
On Thursday, officials said they were looking for a 6-foot-tall white man with light brown hair. Officials said the person was wearing a blue and white striped shirt, gray shorts and brown sandals. He was described as clean shaven, according to the university's website.
Police from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg and Christiansburg searched for the man along with Montgomery County sheriff's deputies.