Virginia's Ferrum College on Lockdown After Security Alert

Ferrum College canceled classes and went on lockdown Tuesday as police searched for a man who was seen with a handgun on campus, officials said.

College President Jennifer Braaten activated an alert system and ordered the lockdown after a member of the housekeeping staff reported seeing a young man walk into a residence hall about 7:30 a.m. with the handgun, Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt said at a news conference.

"Basically, he told the housekeeper not to say anything about it and he continued on," Hunt said.

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Authorities had searched approximately half the campus, he said.

There have been no reports of threats and no one on campus had been harmed, Hunt said.

Hunt told The Roanoke Times that police questioned two people as persons of interest. A nearby elementary school also was locked down.

"No one has been hurt, no one is in a panic mode," Braaten said at the news conference.

State police sent troopers to the campus, as well as officers from Franklin, Patrick and Henry counties, school spokeswoman Natalie Faunce said.

More than 900 of the school's 1,200 students live on campus, and Braaten said they were being sent to a central location.

"The students are OK," Faunce said.

The private school affiliated with the United Methodist Church is in a rural setting 35 miles south of Roanoke.

Faunce said the lockdown was a precaution.

"Ever since Virginia Tech, we can't be careful enough," she said. "That's where we are."

Last April 16, a student gunman killed 32 people and committed suicide on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, which is less than 50 miles away