UMBC police question student suspected of brandishing handgun on campus

May 31, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

University of Maryland, Baltimore County police say a male student brandished a handgun in front of a female acquaintance on the Catonsville campus early Thursday morning.

The woman, who is also a UMBC student, called 911 at 5:15 a.m., saying the man displayed the gun while they were in a car on the campus. County and university police responded, canvassing the area and going into residence halls, campus police Chief Mark Sparks said.

Police located the man in Timonium by midday, Deputy Chief Paul Dillon said, and were questioning him.

UMBC remained open throughout the incident, although a campus text alert system warned people to remain indoors, be cautious and delay visits to the school if possible. Police had what Sparks called "credible information" narrowing the threat to the area near West Hills Apartments, on-campus housing near Walker Avenue and Hilltop Circle.

Most UMBC students have left for the summer. Students attending summer classes said they were alarmed by the text alert, but things appeared to have returned to normal by late Thursday morning.

Police recovered a gun, which they believe is the one shown to the woman, from the car, Sparks said. The man did not point the gun at the woman or threaten her, but it is illegal to possess a gun on the campus, Sparks said.

A text message alert sent to the university community at 11:38 a.m. said the search had been completed.

"Strong evidence suspect no longer in area," the text read. "Weapon recovered from suspect's vehicle. Resume normal activities."

"Any time you hear there's a gun nearby, you get scared," said Kishan Gajera, a senior from Westminster attending summer classes.

Adele Puglia, a transfer student from Glen Burnie, said her morning class was abuzz over the incident, but she didn't feel threatened.

"I was glad I saw police officers walking around," she said.

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