Sam Houston State locked down due to Nerf ball game

October 22, 2010 8:06:34 PM PDT
Sam Houston State University is defending its decision to leave its students in the dark about a possible emergency situation on campus. On Friday afternoon, the campus was in lockdown because of a gun scare.

The situation on the campus near Huntsville turned out to be nothing more than a toy Nerf gun, but students say the way the university responded shows it may not be ready for a real emergency.

Sam Houston State officials admit an hour and a half passed before they sent out any sort of notification related to the lockdown or the reports of gunman on campus. But had there been a legitimate, imminent threat, they say, they would have acted much more quickly.

At about 2:30pm Friday, police at Sam Houston State received word of a possible gunman on campus. Authorities put the campus on lockdown but did not immediately send out any sort of notification to students.

"I was kind of alarmed that I didn't know when I left class," student Kevin Watson said. "And then the doors were locked, and I was already outside."

Eyewitnesses reported seeing what they thought were several people on campus with rifles. Campus officials later said what people saw were toy guns used by students during an organized game on campus.

University leaders admit they didn't send out any email or text notifications about it until after 4pm -- an hour and a half after initial reports of those weapons on campus.

"It's definitely a bad thing that they didn't send us a notification," student Lidiya Tsurkanu said. "I had to find out by Facebook."

Unlike the shooting at UT just last month, authorities say no shots were fired. They say they did not immediately know what they might be dealing with, that it took some time to rule out the rumors and discover that there were no weapons, that there was no threat on campus.

"We don't want it to be wrong," said Bruce Erickson with Sam Houston State University. "We don't want to have to correct it the next time; we don't want to cause a panic."

If there were a real threat, university officials say the campus community would be notified much more quickly. They say they just want to avoid causing unnecessary anxiety.

"I think what we did worked fairly well," Erickson said. "Did it work perfectly? No. We learned from this."

Sam Houston officials say no one will be arrested as a result of Friday's incident. They are, however, looking into whether possessing toy guns on campus violates any state laws or policies of the university.


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