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Suspects In Custody After UMD Gun Scare; Students Call Alert Confusing

Updated: 03/06/2014 4:09 PM
Created: 03/06/2014 8:33 AM WDIO.com
By: Logan Gruber, Laurie Stribling

A gun scare at UMD closed down Kirby Drive near campus for about an hour Thursday morning. Students were notified via email and text message, but some said the alert was confusing.

"It was not very clear," student Michael Joyce said.

"I just thought the text message was kind of vague," student Brittany Boughner said.

The alert message came after a report about a gun on campus at about 7:16 a.m.

University Police said they were called to the Kirby Plaza Bus Hub where a witness saw two suspects with what looked like a weapon. The witness said it fell out of one of the suspect's clothing.

Three minutes later, the two suspects were found on Kirby Drive between the Swenson Building and West College Street. A University Police officer stopped the two males at gunpoint.

"Both males immediately became physically and verbally uncooperative," Sgt. Tim LeGarde said.

Ten minutes later, at about 7:30 a.m., Duluth Police officers arrested the 19-year-old and 15-year-old suspects for disorderly conduct, underage consumption and possesion of marijuana. They found an air-soft gun and live, firearm ammunition on the scene.

"A few kids had seen two individuals on the ground by police being detained," Joyce said.

LeGarde said there's a chance they could face more serious charges.

"It was good to know police were right there on the scene getting things under control," student Amanda Hass said.

While some students were thankful for the quick response, other students said the alert message came too late. It was sent about a half hour after the arrest.

"It doesn't really help much to know after the fact that something happened," student Andrew Florestano said.

University Police said they sent the alert as soon as possible.

Other students said they didn't understand what they were suppose to do.

"I don't think a lot of people knew what 'shelter in place' meant," Boughner said.

"The last sentence of the text was 'shelter in place'," Florestano said. "I don't really know what that meant."

University Police said it means students should stay where they are because a full lockdown at a campus like UMD is difficult.

"This is a large campus with lots of exits and entrances," Lt. Sean Huls said. "We don't have the staffing to completely shut down or close off campus."

University Police said they plan on sending out a follow up email explaining what "shelter in place" means. They said they've tried educating students about it before.

University Police also said the quick response Thursday proves they're prepared for situations like this.

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