MADISON, Wis. – Police searched areas of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Tuesday evening for a suicidal man they said was trying to provoke a shootout with authorities.
The university canceled night classes at the west end of campus, as well as a soccer game. Police urged students to stay home for the evening, and the University of Wisconsin Hospital discouraged visitors.
Police were searching for Jesse Miller, 19, of Madison, who was serving a work-release jail term for armed robbery but who stopped reporting this month, said Dale Burke, assistant UW-Madison police chief.
Miller has a history of mental illness and is a safety concern, Burke said.
"I can assure everyone in the community that all efforts are being exhausted to locate Mr. Miller," Burke said.
The Dane County Crisis Center got a call about 4:40 p.m. about a person on top of the hospital's parking ramp who was apparently suicidal. As officers responded, authorities learned the person claimed to have a gun and intended to be killed by police.
Two later calls claming that shots were fired near the hospital and that a bomb threat had been made to the hospital were hoaxes made by Miller, Burke said.
"The calls appeared to be fictitious and without merit, and this gentleman indicated that he wanted to be killed by the police," Burke said. "It looks like one of those cases where somebody is trying to create a scenario for that to happen."
Officers had thoroughly searched the west end of campus and were not sure of Miller's whereabouts, Burke said, cautioning that the phone calls might not even been made from Madison.
The hospital told employees to report to work Tuesday night, and the university said it would decide later whether to hold classes Wednesday.
The university sent two mass e-mails to students about the search, Burke said. Some still hadn't heard about it by Tuesday evening.
Greg Grube, a senior, said Tuesday night as he walked home on the west end of campus that his flag football game had been canceled that night for unspecified security concerns.
"They didn't explain anything. They just said security. I thought that meant the fields were too wet," he said. "Wow, jeez, I wish I would have known that. I would have been a little more careful."