USF police won’t pursue charges against gunman

July 30th, 2009 by

TAMPA, FL– Police at the University of South Florida say they will not pursue charges against an alleged gunman who triggered a campus-wide lockdown last Friday.

On Tuesday, police said they were reopening the case after new information was brought to their attention. But one day later, they say the case is closed.

Police say a man called the Hillsborough County Crisis Center on Friday saying he was on campus with a gun and not afraid to use it. The suspect later turned himself in under the Baker Act.

USF gunman reportedly alerted police to his location
TAMPA, FL — The Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office and the USF Police department are continuing the search for a reported gunman seen on the university’s Tampa campus earlier Friday.

Hillsborough Sheriff’s spokesman J.D. Callaway said they are trying to locate the armed man, who was believed to be near the Bio-Sciences building around 12:30pm.

Major J.D. Withrow with the USF campus police says they were alerted after the gunman called the Hillsborough County Crisis Center.

“We were given a specific location. He indicated that he had a firearm and was willing to use it,” Withrow said.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy described the man as a black male, 5’7″, weighing 200 lbs and driving a gold Saturn.

He lives in Hillsborough County.

Both McElroy and Callaway said they have the man’s identity, but refused to release it, saying the man may have been suicidal and may try to harm himself.

McElroy added it doesn’t look like the man actually committed a crime, but could be baker acted if he is found.

The school remained on lockdown for several hours while offficers tried to find the the man. The lockdown was lifted after 2pm and normal activities were allowed to resume.

A message on the school’s website told students to stay inside and lock their doors and avoid the area near the Bio-Science building.

A siren sound periodically at the university during the lockdown followed by the message “gunman on campus.”

The message was changed to inform anyone on campus of the “all clear”.

The sirens are a recent addition to the campus’ emergency notification system. They were installed in an effort to prevent incidents like the Virginia Tech tragedy.

“The EMS Notification worked exactly as it was designed to,” Withrow said.

The school also sent text messages to some 55,000 students, faculty, and staff warning of the possible danger.

Jon Catuccio, who works at the school, said that a little before noon someone said over a loudspeaker that a gunman had been reported at the bioscience building in the heart of campus and people should stay inside.

He said he got an e-mail with the same information and everyone was “kind of hanging out” and waiting to see what happens.

Student Lawrence Stawkowski, 24, saw three helicopters flying around and said an alarm went off every 15 minutes.

“I wasn’t too afraid,” he said. “I was just surprised, a little shocked.”

Junior Lynn McPhearson, 21, said he had been in the Marshall Center for about an hour and could see the bioscience building from the window.

“You don’t see people running around like it’s mass chaos,” he said.

McPhearson said a group of parents and students who had been on campus for orientation were also inside.

The late summer term at USF just ended, so there were fewer students than usual on campus, said Allyson Stanfill, 21, who was stuck inside a lab across the street from the bioscience building.

Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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