False alarm disrupts campus; weapon proves to be fake rifle

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Texas A&M University resumed normal activity Thursday evening after campus police responded to a report of a possible campus gunman.

A campus bus driver saw an individual carrying what he thought was a rifle near Rudder Tower at about 3:30 p.m., said university spokesman Lane Stephenson.

“It was just one report,” Stephenson said. “We just had a report that the university police have found no indication of a crime done.”

Following the report, university officials sent a campus-wide Code Maroon alert — an emergency notification program that distributes text messages and e-mails to students, faculty and staff — telling them to seek shelter. At approximately 4:10 p.m., the suspect was seen near the tower, an 11-story conference center.

Nearly 20 minutes later, the university began shuttle pickups to bring students home. Police searched the area near the tower for the suspect and detained the individual at 5:34 p.m. University officials said the individual carried a replica of a rifle made of hard rubber and walked through the tower building to drive home.

Campus police alerted other local law enforcement agencies as standard procedure, Stephenson said.

“We have a highly trained and well-staffed police department here on campus,” he said. “They are certainly capable of handling the situation on their own.”