UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — Students locked themselves in classrooms and hid under desks at a college in upstate New York on Monday after the school received a threatening message about someone armed with a weapon.
The lockdown at Utica College in central New York ended after about six hours, with authorities saying there were no reports of shots or injuries.
The college sent messages on social media late Monday morning asking students to shelter in place after the school “received threats from an individual who stated that he was armed with a weapon,” according to Utica police.
By late Monday afternoon, campus officials said all buildings had been searched and students and staff had been escorted to the student center or athletic center. The lockdown was lifted around 5 p.m. and students were allowed to leave campus or return to their dorms.
“They told us to leave everything in the class. … They were going to clear all bags and pat each student down,” student Noah Britt told the Observer-Dispatch of Utica via text message. “Six officers all with rifles walked us to (another building) … a secure place for everyone on campus.”
Britt said he was locked in a classroom for about two hours.
Entrances to the college campus, 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Syracuse, were blocked off by police. Friends and family of students gathered on the sidewalks nearby to wait for news.
“My daughter’s been texting me … I’m in shock,” Joanne Hajec, of Whitesboro, told the Observer-Dispatch.
Student Marangely Delgado told the Syracuse Post-Standard she had spent 3 ½ hours in the dark in the financial aid office. Two people were sleeping, she said.
McKenzie Lowden told the Post-Standard she was in English class when the lockdown was announced. She said students barricaded the door with desks and turned the lights off. Lowden said she was terrified.
“Florida just happened. Las Vegas just happened,” Lowden said. “The world we live in is just really crazy … You never know where you’re safe.”
State police, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office and Utica City Police were on the scene.
The small, private college, founded in 1946, enrolls more than 5,000 full- and part-time students on its 128-acre campus and online, according to its website. It has seven residence halls and 138 full-time faculty members.