Published November 30, 2015
Classes have resumed at the University of Central Florida after homemade explosives were safely removed from a dorm building, which around 500 students were evacuated from earlier in the morning.
University spokesman Grant Heston says normal operations resumed at the campus around noon after the makeshift devices were taken away, but the dorm was still closed.
Police were called to the Tower 1 on-campus dorm early Monday after a fire alarm went off shortly after midnight, and University of Central Florida officials said they found a male student dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, along with homemade bombs, a handgun and a rifle.
UCF spokesman Grant Heston said the dorm has suites, with a main kitchen and living area, along with four bedrooms. The body was found inside one of the rooms.
A bomb squad had been sent to the campus to investigate the explosives, while the dorm and a parking garage was closed. Heston said the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the FBI are helping with the investigation.
Antonio Whitehead, 21, a junior, told the Associated Press he heard the fire alarm go off after midnight and thought it was a routine alarm. He headed outside where he saw a crowd already heading across the street from the dorm.
"All of a sudden, I felt the crowd move a little faster. And a police officer with a machine gun or something told everyone to start moving a lot faster," he said.
Grant Hernandez, 20, a sophomore from Orlando who also is a resident at the dorm, said he woke up sometime after midnight when police were evacuating the building.
"We weren't allowed to get our cars. We weren't allowed to get our personal effects," Hernandez said.
"All we saw were people running, and they were not telling us what was going on," he added. "We were left unsure of things. It wasn't till about 6 o'clock that we got more information and a clearer picture of what was going on." He said officers on the scene began providing more information, and students checked updates on the university's website.
A UCF alert had said there was no threat to the community, 13 News reports.
A spokeswoman for State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan also said he was called this morning by UCF President John Hitt and was told about the situation unfolding on the Orlando-area campus.
"As far as we know no other students are in danger," Kim Wilmath said.
A statement on the university's website said the UCF Arena will open to accommodate displaced students. Counselors would be available to talk to students who need assistance.
"It's scary. Obviously, it's in the news and stuff with all the school shootings but there's not much you can do about it," Ryan Elkin, a student, told 13 News. "Obviously they took precautions and emptied out the whole building."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.