RICHMOND, Va. – The University of Richmond was placed on lockdown Tuesday afternoon while police conducted a building-to-building search for a man who was reportedly seen carrying a gun.
University spokeswoman Linda Evans said no shots were fired.
Evans said witnesses reported seeing a man with a handgun in Boatwright Memorial Library at about 2:50 p.m.. She said the man was wearing a dark-colored shirt or jacket with the word "Sheriff" on the back and maybe a gray fake beard.
University spokesman Brian Eckert said the man approached the circulation desk at the library and was turned away after he refused to identify himself. The man did not brandish a gun, he said.
According to Eckert, witnesses reported the man appeared to be changing clothes outside the library and putting things in a duffel bag. Two people reported seeing what appeared to be a handgun, prompting university officials to send e-mail and text message alerts.
The alert, which Eckert said was sent by 3:15 p.m., read: "Dangerous person reported on campus. Use caution and warn others," and listed a phone number to report unusual activity.
All faculty and about 45 percent of the student body is on the alert system, Eckert said. Most students were no longer on campus because final exams ended last week.
"We didn't realize this was that big a deal," student Tim Courtney said as he and a friend, Caitlin DelConte of Memphis, got in a car to leave campus.
DelConte said she felt inconvenienced, not afraid.
"We heard people were leaving," she said. "We just wanted to get in the car."
Police with bloodhounds finished a search of the library and moved on to other buildings. Police found a piece of the fake beard and used it as the scent to cue the bloodhounds. The text alert was sent again as the search expanded.
Eckert said campus police believe they have a surveillance photo of the man, but the did not release it.
The University of Richmond is a private school with about 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
Two nearby private schools also took precautions. St. Catherine's School locked down its campus. In a phone message sent out to families, the private girls school said it had chosen to lock down "because of reported problems on the University of Richmond campus." St. Christopher's School suspended after-school activities and brought students inside.