Campus alerts have been lifted. Classes will be canceled at Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus for the remainder of the day. The Univeristy has a press conference scheduled for 3:15 pm today.
This story is developing. At this time students and faculty are instructed to say inside, secure doors, and call 911 for help. Police are conducting a search of the campus at this time.
WSLS (a local NBC affiliate) reports that the campus siren system has been activated. Sources at the University characterize this as a "complete lockdown."
The following is the full text of Virginia Tech's alert:
At 9:09 a.m. three juveniles attending a camp at the university reported
seeing a white male, 6 feet tall, with light brown hair outside of New
Residence Hall East holding what may have been a handgun. They say the
weapon was covered by a cloth or covering of some sort. He was walking fast
in the direction of the volleyball courts. He was wearing a blue and white
striped shirt (stripes were vertical), gray shorts and brown sandals. The
subject had no facial hair or glasses.
Officers responded immediately to the area but found no one matching the
description. Police have encountered no other witnesses reporting this
individual or anything suspicious. Law enforcement officers from VTPD,
Blacksburg PD and Montgomery County Sheriff's Office are patrolling the
campus, continuing to look for the subject.
If anyone sees anything suspicious contact the VT Police Department at
231-6411 or 911.
It is worth pointing out, at this time, that Virginia Tech is presently on summer break. Even so, the campus is in heavy use by various summer camps as well as summer school students. Dietrick hall remains open as a dining facility even when classes are not in session.
WDBJ7 Reports that "Kids attending a camp on the Virginia Tech campus and setting off rockets on the drillfield have been escorted to a safe place." Presumably these were children associated with one of the summer camps. The Drillfield is the large open oval at top center in the map at right.
"Police have encountered no other witnesses reporting this individual or seeing anything suspicious," reports the Roanoke Times. Meanwhile, police continue to search the area and the campus (and some surrounding areas) remains in lockdown.
WSLS reports "At this point, federal officials are waiting to hear if they're needed at Virginia Tech." Meanwhile WDBJ7 has posted links to some webcams on the Virginia Tech campus
WDBJ7: "A news conference is set for 11 a.m. in front of Burruss Hall." This is a good sign. If there were cause for alarm they'd never hold the news conference in the open like that. Burruss Hall sits on the side of a massive and open field in the middle of the Virginia Tech campus.
You can catch the news conference on WDBJ7. Live streaming available here.
The Associated Press: FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski as saying that FBI agents are on their way to assist.
News conference complete. The campus remains on lockdown out of "an abundance of caution." Police clarify that the report was of someone carrying a weapon -- not pointing, threatening, or brandishing a weapon.
AP highlights the following from the news conference:
"We're in a new era. Obviously this campus experienced something pretty terrible four years ago ... regardless of what your intuition and your experience as a public safety officers tells you, you are really forced to issue an alert, and that's where we believe we are right now,"
Police have released a composite sketch of the individual sighted earlier on campus with what witnesses identified as a firearm.
The campus lockdown has been lifted. The University issued the following statement at 2:41 pm today:
The campus alert is lifted. There will continue to be a large police presence on campus today. Police have not received nor discovered additional information about a person possibly carrying a weapon beyond that reported this morning. The university community may resume normal campus activity. Only Blacksburg campus classes have been cancelled today.
The university will hold a press briefing at 3:15 p.m. in front of Burruss Hall.
While the alert has been lifted, as always, we suggest that people remain vigilant and report suspicious campus activity to Virginia Tech Police at 911 or 231-6411.