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Report of armed weapon in Loop campus lead to evacuation, concerned students

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At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22  DePaul’s Loop campus was allegedly ordered to evacuate by Public Safety after it was reported to DePaul’s campus security that a person was seen with a gun on campus. As of yet, it is unclear who made the report.

At 6:38 p.m. DePaul’s student body, faculty, staff and retirees received the following email from the university’s Public Safety Office:

“Earlier this evening, DePaul Public Safety received a report of a person carrying a gun inside a Daley Building classroom. Public Safety and Chicago Police immediately responded and determined the person was an off-duty law enforcement officer who is a student. The responding officers verified there was no threat to the community.”

Both DePaul’s Public Safety and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) confirmed there was no threat to the DePaul community after the incident was investigated.

CPD told The DePaulia no statement would be issued regarding the incident. Upon a request for further information, CPD sent The DePaulia the following message.

“0-100 block of East Jackson Blvd at approximately 5:35 p.m. Police responded to a call of a person with a gun at the location. Upon arrival, it was discovered that the person was a Cook County Sheriff.”

Yet, while the report was being investigated students quickly turned to Twitter to post about the incident. Confusion was expressed by students whether the initial report was a prank.

While DePaul’s Public Relations office informed the DePaul community and several local media outlets the Loop campus was not evacuated, several students reported being told to exit the Daley building.

Graduate student Holly Sias was on her way to her night class and was standing in the lobby of 14 E. Jackson with two classmates waiting for the elevators when she noticed a CPD officer instructing all the students to relocate outside onto the street. After a few minutes, they were told to relocate one more time across the street to Jackson Blvd. and wait outside.

 

“All of us in the lobby by elevators were evacuated and told to stand on the other side of the street,” said student Holly Sias. “People already in the classrooms stayed and had no idea (what) was going on.”

Sias said students waiting on 1. East Jackson watched, according to Sias, 12 to 14 Chicago police officers run out of there patrol cars into the building with automatic rifles. Sias and her classmates were texting their four classmates who were inside the classroom to “lock the door.” At the time, Sias said students who had been evacuated were not informed what the unfolding security threat was causing one classmate to run four blocks from the location in panic. According to Sias, some students waiting outside left the area out of fear.

After 20 minutes of waiting, students received clearance to go inside the building. Once in the classroom, Sias said professors informed students the incident had been a drill. Only to receive the university’s official Public Safety report thirty minutes later.

“A lot of professors brushed it off and a lot of professors seemed to do what DePaul told them to do … It was a false alarm thank God, but what if it wasn’t,” Sias said. “What about the people inside they were getting a lot of their information from us outside. We advised the people on the inside to ‘lock the doors’ that’s what we advised them from outside. We didn’t know else to tell them, we’ve had no training, we had no idea what was going on.”

Sias believes the university failed to convey information to students while the events were transpiring.

It’s extremely stressful for students. As students, we have right to know what is going on our campus. I didn’t know, I just did what the cops told me to do and I feel naive doing that,” Sias said. “I think in the future DePaul should send alerts telling us why we can’t be on campus at the moment and let the whole thing play out from there. Don’t let us jump to conclusions.”

This is an ongoing story. Check back for more updates.

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Report of armed weapon in Loop campus lead to evacuation, concerned students