Reporting Derek Valcourt
CATONSVILLE, Md. (WJZ)– University of Maryland Baltimore County Police have found the suspect who brought a gun to campus. The incident triggered an intense search and a temporary lockdown on the campus.
They say the suspect is a student at the university and that they are questioning him about the incident. They have not, however, released his name.
UMBC Police have also determined that the gun in question is a starter pistol. Starter pistols are typically fired to indicate the start of track and field events and are not capable of firing bullets.
Derek Valcourt has the details on what police found.
A student told police on Thursday morning that she saw a man sitting in a car with a gun. Police quickly found the car they were looking for and inside they did find the gun. But the search for the suspect continues.
A warning of a possible gunman on the UMBC campus went out through text alerts.
The text message read: “Police in the area of West Hill Apartments for a report of man with gun. Stay inside and out of area.”
That text was triggered by an early morning 911 call from a female student who said a man she knew showed her a handgun while they were sitting in a car near the on-campus student apartments.
“It was not a threat. This person just displayed a handgun and the female student saw the handgun. So there was no threat involved,” Chief Mark Sparks of the UMBC Police Department said.
When police arrived, they found the car, and inside was the gun they were looking for. But the man the woman had identified could not be found.
As police began searching for the suspect, text alerts warned students coming to campus to delay their arrival and warned students already on campus to stay indoors.
“I also remember the situation about Virginia Tech, so I was kind of scared about that happening here. So I just listened to whatever they said and trusted them,” Amanda Lo, another UMBC student, said.
“Before I actually got on campus, I was sitting in my car for a while wondering if I should get out,” Reeks Patel, a student, said.
“I was also kind of freaked out especially since the police came knocking on my door,” Audra Gotjen, a student, said.
A door-to-door search of student housing came up empty-handed. Police believe the suspect left campus and after several hours, police gave the all-clear for students to go about their business.
“Obviously, that was a little bit nerve-wrecking but the cops seemed to handle it pretty well and pretty efficiently. So I feel pretty safe for the most part,” UMBC student Manpreet Sari said.
Police say they chose not to close the campus because they felt certain the threat was contained to an isolated area they had cordoned off near the student housing.
“Campus wasn’t closed because we ascertained that the threat was isolated to a specific area and we didn’t feel it was necessary or prudent to close the whole rest of the campus other than to give a general warning that we had this incident going on on campus,” said Sparks.
Police have not confirmed whether or not charges will be filed in the case.