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Yale Lockdown Caused By Likely Hoax

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Yale University was put into lockdown, and people on campus were asked to shelter in place, after an anonymous man made a disturbing 911 call. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

Yale University was put into lockdown, and people on campus were asked to shelter in place, after an anonymous man made a disturbing 911 call. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN
Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Yale University was locked down for nearly six hours Monday as authorities investigated a phone call saying an armed man was heading to shoot up the school, a warning they later said was likely a hoax.

SWAT teams searching the Ivy League campus did not find a gunman after a room-by-room search and the lockdown was lifted Monday afternoon. No one was injured, police said.

“New Haven is safe. The Yale campus is safe,” said New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman.

A 911 call was received at 9:48 a.m. from a man at a pay phone about a mile from the campus who said his roommate was on the way to the university to shoot people, said Officer David Hartman, a New Haven Police spokesman.

Esserman said he was leaning toward the incident being a hoax and that a witness who reported seeing someone with a rifle likely saw a law enforcement officer.

“Though it is starting to tilt in the direction of an innocent mistake, it started with a purposeful and malicious call,” Esserman said, vowing to track down and arrest the person who made the call.

Authorities do not believe the caller was a Yale student or that his roommate attended Yale, Esserman said. There was nothing specific about the threat, he said, and the call lasted only seconds.

Many students and staff members left campus for the Thanksgiving holiday following Saturday’s traditional football game against Harvard.

But many were still in their dorm rooms, Hartman said, and Yale authorities sent out their first warning at 10:17 a.m., about a half hour after the 911 call.

“The Yale police made the right call,” Esserman said. “They went to immediate lockdown to keep everybody safe.”

Yale advised students and staff members to shelter in place. The school also issued an advisory asking people off campus to stay away from the area. The shelter advisory was lifted by late afternoon.

Police blocked off several streets near the university’s Old Campus, in the heart of New Haven, where they were concentrating their search. Several local schools also were placed in lockdown. Police in tactical gear entered several campus buildings. Pedestrian traffic in the normally bustling area was sparse, with cold and windy weather keeping many people inside.

The response included several police departments, the FBI and other federal agencies, Hartman said.

Police had difficulty gaining access to some rooms because those locked inside were not convinced they were dealing with law enforcement, he said. Most rooms don’t have peepholes. Yale sent out an email telling community members that officers would be slipping a Yale ID under the door or using keys to gain access.

Undergraduate classes are set to resume Dec. 2

Yale has been the target of violence in the past. In May 2003, a bomb damaged an empty classroom and adjacent reading room at the law school.

A Yale professor, David J. Gelernter, was seriously injured in 1993, when a mail bomb mailed by Theodore Kaczynski, the man known as the Unabomber, exploded in his campus office.

Monday’s search came several weeks after a scare on another Connecticut campus.

Central Connecticut State University was in lockdown for several hours Nov. 4 after reports by witnesses of a masked man carrying a gun or sword.

Police arrested a student, David Kyem, who said he had been wearing a ninja-like Halloween costume and meant no harm. He faces charges including breach of peace.

___

Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Update 3:46pm

In the most recent press briefing, NHPD Chief Dean Esserman stated “Nobody has been hurt, nobody has been found. But the day is hardly over.”

“We are leaning towards this being a hoax,” Esserman said.

The campus lockdown has been lifted, with the exception to Old Campus, according to the University’s Twitter account.

The lockdown on Old Campus will continue until the room-by-room search has been completed.

The initial phone call, received from a pay phone, was described by Chief Esserman as a “purposeful and malicious call,” and he says authorities will find the person who placed the phone call.

“The New Haven police are going to find… and we’re going to put handcuffs on the person who made that call,” Esserman stated during the briefing.

Police say they suspect a person who reported seeing someone with a gun on campus, may have actually seen a member of law enforcement.

Police are asking drivers to stay away from Yale and downtown New Haven this evening.

Police said before the all clear can be sounded, Old Campus must be searched room-by-room, and that could take until dinner time.

Update 1:58pm

Yale University has posted an update to their emergency website:

Out of an abundance of caution, Police will be doing a room to room search starting with the residential college areas. When they knock on your door, a Yale Police Officer will slip their Yale ID under the door. Please cooperate. In some cases, Police may use keys, but they will identify themselves. Shelter in Place continues.

As the room-by-room search continues, Yale Police Officers will slide their university ID to confirm their identity, since Yale’s dormitory doors do not have peepholes.

The shelter in place on the campus is still under effect as the search continues.  Other nearby schools and businesses are presently closing down as a precautionary measure.

Update:1:20 pm

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ An anonymous caller warned authorities Monday that his roommate was on his way to Yale University to shoot people, leading officials to lock the Ivy League campus down as police searched for a gunman. At least two witnesses reported seeing someone on or near campus with a long gun.   A 911 call was received around 9:30 a.m. from a man at a pay phone about a mile from the campus, said Officer David Hartman, a New Haven Police spokesman.
“All he really said was that his roommate was on his way to the university, to Yale University, to shoot people,” he said.
Police later received reports from witnesses who reported seeing someone with a gun, Hartman said. He said that there was nothing specific about the threat and that the call lasted just several seconds.

There were no reports of shots fired or anyone injured.
Police blocked off several streets near the Ivy League university, located in the heart of New Haven. Several local schools also were placed in lockdown.
Yale advised students and staff to shelter in place. The school also issued an advisory asking people off campus to stay away from the area.
The school is on November break, with undergraduate classes to resume Dec. 2. Many students and staff left campus for the Thanksgiving holiday follow Saturday’s traditional football game against Harvard.

Pedestrian traffic in the normally bustling area also was sparse, with cold and windy weather keeping many people inside.
Police in tactical gear entered several buildings, and a helicopter hovered over the area.

Yale has been the target of violence in the past. In May 2003, a bomb damaged an empty classroom and adjacent reading room at the law school.
A Yale professor, David J. Gelernter, was seriously injured in 1993, when a mail bomb mailed by Theodore Kaczynski, the man known as the Unabomber, exploded in his campus office.

Friday’s search came about two weeks after a scare on another Connecticut campus.

Central Connecticut State University was in lockdown for several hours Nov. 4 after reports by witnesses of a masked man carrying a gun or sword.
Police arrested a student, David Kyem, who said he had been wearing a ninja-like Halloween costume and meant no harm. He faces charges including breach of peace.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Update 12:04pm:

Yale has updated their Twitter feed to confirm the report of an armed person near Old Campus.  The shelter in place remains in effect.

New Haven, CT (CBS Connecticut) A shelter-in-place order has been issued at Yale University.

This, after New Haven Police say they received a call about a suspicious person on campus.

An alert posted on the Yale web site says there were reports of a person with a gun on the central campus.

The call was made from a phone booth in the 300-block of Columbus Avenue reporting a person with a gun.

At this point, authorities say there have been no confirmations or sightings of the person.

Yale police are advising students and faculty to remain in their current location until further notice.

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