US Lockdown at USC prompted by false active shooter report, police officials say

16:20  03 october  2017
16:20  03 october  2017 Source:   Tribune News Service

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Students are escorted from a building at the University of Southern California as police make a floor-by-floor sweep after a report of shooting on the campus in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Authorities said they found no evidence of a shooting on the campus and there is no danger to the university or the community. © AP Photo/Reed Saxon Students are escorted from a building at the University of Southern California as police make a floor-by-floor sweep after a report of shooting on the campus in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017. Authorities said they found no evidence of a shooting on the campus and there is no danger to the university or the community. Los Angeles police said they found no evidence of a shooting on the USC campus Monday after reports of gunfire prompted a lockdown and a substantial LAPD response.

“No danger to community,” the Los Angeles Police Department said on Twitter after completing a search of campus buildings.

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School officials say false reports of a shooting at the University of California were spawned by a faculty member telling her students during class that there was an active shooter in the building.

“We’ll be looking into the details of what surrounded it.” Officials at Travis Air Force Base have confirmed the active shooter reports were FALSE , posting the Glad this was not an active shooter situation, but we’ll continue to update you on what prompted the lockdown on Travis Air Force Base.

Public safety officials said evacuations were prompted by a false report that came in shortly after noon.

John Thomas, head of USC’s Department of Public Safety, said in an emailed statement, “It was reported a faculty member during class falsely told her students there was an active shooter in the building.”

USC police said the incident happened in a third-floor classroom in Fertitta Hall, a building of the business school.

LAPD Deputy Chief Phillip Tingirides said the female professor appeared to have some sort of "episode" and told students there was an active shooter on campus.

The woman, whose name department officials declined to release, was not booked on a criminal charge. She was detained for questioning, LAPD Officer Tony Im said.

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Officials say reports of an active shooter at the military post stemmed from someone who made a distress call Thursday after seeing security forces doing a routine inspection. The base had been placed on lockdown about 9 a.m. after an active shooter was reported .

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At this point police are trying to figure out "why she did what she did,” Im said.

"They're going to question her about everything," he said.

USC issued an alert telling students to shelter in place at 12:23 p.m. Within about half an hour, police had verified there was no active shooter.

Tiago Rodriguez was sitting in a business communication class in Fertitta Hall when campus public safety officers walked by and told everyone to stay inside. Minutes earlier, the professor had been going over the procedures for an active-shooter situation.

At first, Rodriguez thought it was a drill, but the mood in the class intensified quickly.

Students lined up against a wall. One student gave the professor his belt to lock the door. At one point, the people in the room piled up their desks and chairs in front of the door to form a barricade. Some students called their parents, crying.

"It totally felt like my life was in immediate danger," Rodriguez said. "It was sobering that this is the reality of the United States today."

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An active shooter report was falsely “triggered after someone saw personnel carrying long guns during [a] drill.” U.S. Joint Base Andrews near Washington was placed on lockdown because of reports of a gunman on the First responders are on-scene now,” base officials said on Twitter.

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Soon after the reports surfaced, a police helicopter circled over the campus and students sitting outside a campus food court were moved inside. Some students and employees said they sheltered in place inside classrooms and offices.

Brian Frost, an MBA student, was grabbing coffee before his 12:30 p.m. class when he saw a stampede of people sprinting out of a building.

"I just started running," he said.

Frost said he thought people were even more jittery than usual in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

"It's one of those things where you can't not think about it," he said.

Ignacio Barron, also an MBA student, said he was in the middle of an exam when a person burst into the classroom with orders to evacuate.

Barron and his classmates quickly left Popovich Hall and waited for updates as fully armed police stood nearby.

Barron said everything happened so quickly that he didn't have a chance to be fearful. He praised the school's response.

"Everything was really well-coordinated," he said.

Officers with the school's department of public safety let students back into classrooms about 2 p.m.

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Officials said in a Facebook post Thursday that there was no shooter and no threat to the base or workers there. The base had been placed on lockdown about 9 a.m. after an active shooter was reported .

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In a statement released late Monday afternoon, USC Provost Michael Quick praised the rapid police response as well as students, staff and faculty for how they reacted to the alert before referring to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left more than 50 people dead and 500 injured.

“In the aftermath of the tragic events in Las Vegas on Sunday, we understand this is a time of stress and anxiety. We want to remind you of the counseling resources we have available,” Quick wrote.

Nicole.SantaCruz@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

nina.agrawal@latimes.com

UPDATES:

6:35 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information about the faculty member and what happened inside a classroom.

5 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from USC Provost Michael Quick.

3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with information about a detained faculty member.

2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with information from USC public safety officials and comments from a USC student.

1:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from a USC student.

This article was originally published at 1 p.m.

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