Local News

Appalachian State Lifts Lockdown Begun After Reports of a Gunman

Posted March 3, 2008 4:58 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2008 9:15 p.m. EST

— Appalachian State University late Monday afternoon lifted a campus-wide lockdown it had begun after reports about a masked gunman.

Students were being allowed to leave buildings cautiously, and no further sightings of the gunman had been reported, university officials said.

The university locked down all campus buildings and urged students and staff to stay away from an area near campus after reports of the gunman.

In an emergency alert posted at 4:47 p.m. Monday on the university's Web site, officials said the man – described as Caucasian, 6 feet tall, wearing a black Pink Floyd T-shirt with a rainbow prism on it – was seen in the area of Appalachian South Apartments and the Hill Street area.

He was said to be carrying a small black handgun and wearing a black or blue ski mask and red-and-green tennis shoes, according the Web site.

No shots were fired and no injuries were reported during the incident.

"For the most part, things seem to be orderly and we actually have a pretty good emergency plan in place after Northern Illinois," Appalachian State student Paul Reichelt said.

On Valentine's Day, a gunman killed five students before committing suicide at Northern Illinois University. Since then, many area colleges have tested audible warning and text-message-alert systems designed to notify students of emergencies.

Such systems gained popularity after an April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting spree, where a student gunman killed 32 people and himself.

Reichelt said there were a lot of police on campus and that a professor told him about the gunman sighting shortly before 5 p.m.

"Things (here) are definitely as good as they could be, considering there is a gunman nearby," Reichelt said during a phone interview with WRAL shortly after the lockdown was issued.

Boone and campus police will be on alert through the evening, campus officials said.

Students are being asked to call home and let family members know they are OK.

Appalachian State University has canceled Monday night classes. Classes will resume as scheduled on Tuesday.