RIT students got a sudden awakening at 8:21 a.m. this morning when RIT Alert, the campus Emergency Mass Notification system, sent text messages and phone calls to students and parents who had subscribed to the service. The message read simply:
“Shelter in Place. Person allegedly with a rifle spotted outside Kate Gleason Hall.”
This message was repeated once, and at 8:44 a.m., more information and a warning to stay inside was issued: “Shelter in place — STAY indoors. Lock or barricade doors. Nathaniel Rochester Hall or Kate Gleason Hall residents.”
The Monroe County Sheriff's (MCS) office was called in for an emergency investigation,. According to an RIT University News press release, the lockdown was initiated after a Regional Transit Service (RTS) bus driver spotted a white male carrying a duffel bag with what appeared to be the stock of a rifle protruding.
RIT Public Safety took steps to secure residential halls and academic buildings, locking doors and standing near entrances, while Monroe County sheriffs searched for the person. He was found, and the object was determined to be an umbrella with a Samurai-sword handle. The MCS office declared an all clear at 9:15 a.m., and RIT Alert passed the message on to students at 9:27 a.m.
Umbrellas and other objects, such as camera tripods, are often mistaken for firearms on college campuses. A similar situation happened last November at East Carolina University.
RIT students, while on lockdown, discussed the situation actively online on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter.
Nobody was injured, and it was determined that there were no guns or dangerous objects on campus.
Reporter will continue to monitor this story. Updates to follow as more information becomes available. Last updated March 16 at 12:02 p.m.