An armed law officer at LSU to speak to students about cyber security and staying safe on social media triggered the hours-long lockdown and SWAT response on part of LSU's campus when someone spotted his gun and reported an armed intruder on campus, school officials said Wednesday.
The false alarm saw a major police response around Coates Hall where students planned to attend a demonstration on ways to safeguard themselves on social media. But some instead found themselves behind barricaded doors as officers swept the building for nearly two hours.
School officials said Wednesday that someone reported the plainclothes officer from the Lousiana Attorney General's Office, who had a visible gun on his belt, as he was entering the building.
Orientation activities were placed on hold and some incoming LSU freshmen found themselves barricaded inside classrooms Tuesday while authorit…
The university community received text messages instructing students, faculty and staff to shelter in place and to “run, hide or fight,” a national standard for responding to reports of armed intruders or active shooters.
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard III said the officer approached responding police after the alert and told them he may have been the source of the alarm, which was called off around 5 p.m.
Student groups are asked to tell campus police whenever they have a law enforcement officer on campus for an event. Ballard said the school is reviewing whether the Women’s Center — the group hosting Tuesday’s event — had notified campus police.
School officials said they plan to review those procedures following the disruption, saying they encourage visiting officers to check in with campus police who can escort them and avoid raising alarms.
LSU President F. King Alexander wrote in a statement Wednesday that he was relieved the alarm had been false.
“All too often around the country and the world, such events have tragic endings. Unfortunately, an active shooter on campus is a situation that universities now must be prepared for at all times,” he wrote.
Alexander added that it’s better to err on the side of caution by encouraging people to report suspicious activity. “We would rather have a false alarm than not be aware of a potential issue,” he wrote.
After part of LSU's campus was put on lockdown Tuesday because of a report of a man with a gun, LSU President F. King Alexander is impressing …
Heightened worries about gun violence following a pair of deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio earlier this month has fueled anxieties over potential attacks.
Earlier this month, reports of an active shooter inside a Baton Rouge Walmart — just days after the shooting at an El Paso Walmart —added to those worries and stirred panic in the store.
Authorities concluded the reports were false and stemmed from two men who had reportedly been fighting before one of them pulled a handgun but didn’t fire it.
Several freshmen students had been attending orientation events at Coates Hall and sheltered themselves behind locked doors while waiting for updates and an eventual all-clear signal.
“They’re scary and traumatizing even when they’re false alarms,” Ballard said, adding that the LSU plans to connect students with counselors if needed.
But the need to report potential dangers far outweigh the risks of hesitating law enforcement responses if someone with a gun begins shooting in a crowded public area.
Major Todd Morris, chief of crime against persons and special operations with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said quick and detailed information is crucial for law enforcement.
“We don’t want our citizens and the public to become numb,” he said. “We don't want them to not report something and it actually becomes an incident from a threat from an armed intruder.”