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University of Nebraska Calls Off Search for Reported Gunman on Campus

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Several University of Nebraska-Lincoln buildings were temporarily locked down Thursday after a faculty member reported seeing a man with a handgun enter the College of Dentistry, but the search was called off without any arrests, officials said.

Campus police chief Carl Oestmann said he was confident the school was secure, although officers would be stationed on campus throughout the evening.

The university issued a campus-wide alert about 3 p.m. warning students to stay away from east campus as police searched for a reported gunman wearing a black windbreaker, jeans and black hat. Several buildings were locked down and students were urged to take shelter. But police called off the search about 4 p.m., and the university said in a statement that no gunman was found.

Oestmann said he had no reason to believe the report was false.

"I have to go with what the College of Dentistry faculty member said is true. There is nothing to indicate otherwise," he said.

Jordan Downey, a dental patient visiting from Omaha, said police came into the building at 3:15 p.m. and moved people into a surgery room and other places without windows.

"We didn't really know what was going on," he said.

Professor Caren Barnes said she was in her office when the building's alert system went off and was ushered into an auditorium with students, patients and other faculty members.

"There was never any mention of hostages, harm, no guns went off, there were not noises," she said. "It was all methodical. Everybody was quiet. It was very serene and orderly and organized."

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has two campuses in state's capital, the one on the city's east side where the gunman was reported and another downtown. Nearly 19,400 undergraduate students were enrolled at the start of the school year, according to the university.

In October 1992, Arthur McElroy brought a loaded rifle into a UNL classroom. He pointed the rifle at some of the estimated 20 students in his actuarial science class and tried to shoot. The gun jammed and the students were able to escape unharmed. McElroy, now 62, was later found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the Lincoln Regional Center.

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