UPDATED: Mistaken reports of gunman cleared within minutes
Updated 3/26, 12:55 a.m.:
A student with a bloody nose left his Talbot East classroom around 8:30 p.m. on Monday night and saw a monopod that he mistook for a gun in a bathroom. He ran out of the bathroom, saying there was a gun in the bathroom, according to Campus Safety Chief John Ojeisekhoba.
The student had stumbled upon the filming of the last scene for the upcoming series finale of “Coach Tracy,” a Biola web show, according to senior cinema and media arts major Michael Sullivan.
Senior journalism major Caleb Taylor was pretending to puke in a bathroom stall as sophomore film major David Tracy hung over it filming, using his monopod — not, he pointed out, a tripod.
The student stopped what he was doing and looked at Tracy holding the monopod, and Tracy smiled down at him.
“Everyone just kind of stopped, we weren’t saying anything, we were just kind of smiling at him,” Tracy said.
The sergeant on duty responded to Talbot East within 30 seconds of receiving the call, Ojeisekhoba said. Information was relayed to the Campus Safety dispatch office immediately and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was notified within a minute.
With the simple initial report of a gun in the bathroom, students wouldn’t have been notified, Ojeisekhoba said. However, more students called the dispatch office reporting various things — including a guy with a bloody nose and a gunman with an AK-47 in Talbot East.
Hearing conflicting reports of a man with a gun — and some reports of only a gun — on campus, Ojeisekhoba notified the dispatcher to send out the campus-wide notification about seven to eight minutes after the initial report.
The building was evacuated while the film students finished their last scene for the show.
“So, they evacuate Talbot. We had no idea because we’re still in the bathroom filming,” Tracy said.
They celebrated the last scene, clapping as they began to walk out of the bathroom.
“I walk out of the bathroom door, I’m standing there with my tripod, and there’s a cop holding me at gunpoint,” Tracy said.
After a few conversations, it was made clear that no gun was in the building. Tracy and Sullivan noted they were impressed by Campus Safety’s response time and ability to evacuate Talbot East.
The sergeant cleared the first floor and part of the second floor before LASD arrived. When the sheriff’s department arrived, they finished clearing the second floor and the third floor together, Ojeisekhoba said.
Within the hour, memes, Facebook posts and tweets reacted to the situation. University administration is dedicated to taking every precaution, said Brenda Velasco, assistant director of public relations and internal communications.
“As an administration, we take these things seriously to ensure the safety of our students,” Velasco said.
Sullivan, who said he’d had a weird night, followed up his interview with a text, saying that people making fun of the student who reported the situation were “screwed up, ‘cause he’s had a worse night than anyone.”
At the same time, he said, students shouldn’t take the ordeal too seriously.
“Since we’re not taking this too seriously, no one else really should. It’s just a peculiar situation,” he wrote.
After a student mistakenly reported seeing a gun on campus, Campus Safety announced that campus was clear. Minutes after a text and email were sent to students announcing reports of a gunman, a follow up text and email announced campus was clear.
“Building and campus are safe there is no gunman on campus … Campus can return to normal mode,” the text read.
Senior Julia Bates said she was disappointed with the campus’ response to the situation.
“This situation is serious and treated in that manner. Even a potential shooter or weapon on campus should not be taken lightly, nor should it be joked about,” she wrote in an email.
Megan Reyneveld, a sophomore who lives in Horton Hall, was told by her resident assistant to lock her door and stay away from the window.
“At first I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t know what was going on, but then … I was a little scared,” she said.
Though he was off campus when the alert went out, sophomore Peter Morgan came to campus once it was cleared.
“I woke up to the text and my roommates were there, and we started talking about it, and then we came to campus right after they [Campus Safety] told us it was okay,” he said.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Campus Safety worked together to investigate the reported situation in Talbot East. Campus Safety will report more in the morning.
Katie Nelson contributed reporting to this story.
For updates from Campus Safety in case of an emergency: