Report of gunfire at Towson University deemed false

University tells students to resume normal activities

April 12, 2013|By Kevin Rector and Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

Police swarmed Towson University Friday after a report of gunfire on campus, but university officials soon said the report appeared to be false.

A Baltimore County 911 call center received the report of a shooting in the 8000 block of York Road shortly after noon, a police spokeswoman said.

At 12:19 p.m., the university tweeted about an "Unverified Report of Shooting" and advised students to "Shelter in place."

Officers converged on the university's Glen Garage on Cross Campus Drive near York Road, university spokeswoman Gay Pinder said, but no signs of a shooting were found.

Ten minutes after the first tweet, the university sent another: "It is believed the report is false. Resume normal activities with caution."

Baltimore County police turned the investigation over to Towson University police.

On campus Friday afternoon, some students described a fleeting moment of panic. Others were unaware of the threat.

Casey Jendras, a junior business major, said he was sitting in math class when he heard police sirens.

Jendras said that he received three texts within 10 minutes from the university. The first reported an unconfirmed shooting and the last said it was a false alarm.

The university also made an announcement on an intercom system.

"It had us a little worried," Jendras said. "But we went from panic to relief in a matter of minutes."

Thomas Kotlar, a senior physics major, said that he was in a seminar when he noticed his classmates looking at their phones. He said he began to hear whispers about a shooting and saw a professor lock the door.

He said he was confident the university would take the proper security measures.

"I thought for a few moments about what my walk over to my car would be like," Kotlar said. "But I was inside, so I felt safe."

Stephanie Summerour, a junior studying mass communications, said she encountered police in bulletproof vests entering the library.

"They didn't really say anything, just ran into the library," she recalled. "I was confused about why they didn't stop me and allowed me to walk in with the police."

Summerour said her mother had received the emergency text alert from the university and called her to make sure she took it seriously.

She said she stayed in the library to "study — with caution."

"I was scared because of everything you hear about all of the school shootings," she said. "I chose to stay in there, but I kind of had in my mind which door I'd go out of if I had to."

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