Fake gun causes concern Friday

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Photo courtesy of Martin Smith.

Many students were pleased with the University’s issuance of a timely and informative text alert Friday after receiving reports that a man with a gun and a gas mask was sighted on campus.

The gun turned out to be fake and no charges were filed against the man.

The man was released from police custody around 4:45 p.m. It turned out that he was running around campus for exercise and the fake gun he was carrying was a trainee rifle, UTPD chief Robert Dahlstrom said in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman on Friday.

University spokesperson Cindy Posey said the man’s name will not be released by the University because of privacy laws within the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, UTPD chief Robert Dahlstrom said the decision not to charge the man was made after considering his intention.

“You got to look at the intent,” Dalhlstrom said to the Austin American-Statesman. “Number one, the weapon was not a real weapon. Number two, the intention was not [to] harm anybody.”

Posey said the man was caught near Clark Field.

The Austin Police Department began receiving reports around 3:51 p.m. Friday that a man with a gas mask and gun was running around campus, APD spokesperson Jennifer Herbert said.

The University issued a text alert at 4 p.m. that said, “UTPD searching for armed male suspect wearing shot gun and gas mask last seen 24th and Guadalupe. Call UTPD if sited [sic].” A second and final text alert was issued by the University at 4:05 p.m. saying the “subject” was in custody and his weapon had been “secured.”

Many students saw the University’s response to the situation as an improvement from the response to the emergency situation on Sept. 14, when a fake bomb threat was made over the phone.

The bomb threat was made to the University at 8:35 a.m. and the University took 75 minutes to issue a text alert. Many were upset because the caller said bombs were hidden in University buildings that would go off in 90 minutes.

An eyewitness to the Friday apprehension, psychology sophomore Jesus Rodriguez, said the suspect remained calm as police apprehended him.