Northropcleared for false alarm

An electrician’s equipment case was mistaken for a gun case, and the building was evacuated.

Police evacuated Northrop Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon when Central Security officers falsely identified what appeared to be a man entering with a gun case, based on images seen on surveillance footage, University officials said.

The man was an electrician whose case held a machine to test fire alarms.

University police dispatch received the call at approximately 3 p.m.

Police entered the building with guns drawn and at 3:15 p.m. began setting up a perimeter about 20 yards from the building.

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said they found an electrician in the building who told the police the case might be one of his employee’s equipment cases.

“He took me to his locker and showed me what looked like the gun case,” Hestness said. “It sure looked like a gun case to me.”

Hestness said about 10 officers arrived on the scene, evacuated common areas and told people to stay locked in their offices, which were deemed safe – standard protocol for a potential gun sighting, though there was never a confirmed weapon.

Don Haney, administrative aide for the School of Design, said he was in Northrop when the police came in. He said he was told to stay in his office and lock the door.

“They told us a man was sighted with a rifle case,” he said.

Later, the police came back and said the building was clear.

The building was reopened at around 3:30 p.m.

Hestness said with 1,100 video cameras on the University campus, it was a good catch by the security monitors.

“Certainly there’s been a lot of random violence in the country in the past few days,” he said. “You can’t discount it.”

Megan Kadrmas, Justin Horwath, Vadim Lavrusik, Ahna Rushmann, Kathryn Nelson and Karlee Weinmann contributed to this report.