Lockdown for 'real, credible threat' at Utica College in upstate NY lifted
UTICA, N.Y. (WSTM) - A lockdown at Utica College that lasted for several hours has been lifted.
Officials said Monday evening a search of all campus buildings has been conducted. All buildings have been safely evacuated by law enforcement and students, faculty and staff were escorted to Strebel Student Center and Clark Athletic Center, both of which were declared "safe zones" by law enforcement. As of 4:30 p.m., a secondary sweep of the building was underway.
Utica Police and college officials made an official statement at 4:45 p.m., saying that law enforcement partnerships were vital to the response. Utica Deputy Police Chief Edward Noonan said that many rumors were spreading over social media about some details of the incident.
"At no time were there any shots fired on campus," Noonan said. "No students were injured. Those were things that were put out on social media that were not accurate."
Officials said that faculty, staff and non-residential students were being systemically released from campus.
The lockdown began with an alert on Twitter sent by the college Monday morning which said, "UC has received a threat and is Locking Down.
"Please remain where you are and lock doors until further notice."
A follow-up tweet from the college said it had received a "real, credible threat."
Utica Police say the college received threats over a phone call from a man claiming he was armed with a weapon around 11 a.m. Police said they have not found any evidence of an active shooter or shots fired at the campus.
Just after noon, armed officers started escorting people from campus buildings.
Utica City Schools and New York Mills Union Free School District were each placed on lockout because of the situation at the college as a precautionary measure, according to officials from those districts.
The college announced later Monday afternoon that all afternoon and evening classes, as well as events, athletic practices and activities had been canceled for the rest of the day. A tweet from the administration advised everyone to continue sheltering in place.
Late Monday night, Utica College President Laura Casamento, Provost John Johnsen, and Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management Jeffery Gates sent a message to students, which was posted on the college's Facebook page.
"As you can imagine, it has been a long and stressful day. The College community has been through a difficult and unnerving ordeal, but we are very proud of the way that students, faculty, and staff responded.
We have heard from a number of concerned students and parents looking for information and assurances. Our first and ongoing priorities are working with law enforcement as they conduct their investigation, and ensuring that students are safe and have access to appropriate support services. As much as time has allowed, we have personally reached out to students.
We understand that some may not agree with our decision to resume classes Tuesday. We feel that there is a need to provide structure and support for students. However, faculty members are encouraged to be supportive of and lenient with students who feel they are unable to attend classes or who need more time to process what has happened. Please be assured that law enforcement will have a continued presence on campus, and counselors in the Counseling Center are standing by to assist students.
On Tuesday morning, we will meet with senior administrators to develop a plan for communicating with and further supporting students, faculty, and staff. Until then, we ask for your patience, and we offer our assurances that we are doing everything we can to identify the person or persons behind the threat and to ensure the safety of members of the College community."