November 16, 2011
A three-hour lockdown at East Carolina University was triggered when a man carrying an umbrella was mistaken for a gunman.
The East Carolina University campus security alert system released the following message at 12:52 p.m. Wednesday:
"ECU Officials have determined that the situation has ended and that there is no threat to campus. Officials have declared the situation ALL CLEAR."
University spokeswoman Mary Schulken said the lockdown began about 10 a.m. when personnel from the Greenville Police Department monitoring a surveillance camera saw a man near campus who appeared to be carrying an assault rifle. An alert was issued ordering students, faculty and staff to stay inside and lock their doors.
Heavily armed officers from at least four law enforcement agencies responded in force, sweeping campus buildings, searching buses and briefly surrounding a nearby house. A Highway Patrol helicopter hovered overhead.
Campus and county police searched the area for a suspect. Buildings were checked and cleared systematically, with students being released to buses or relocated, location-by-location.
Schulken said the response was justified even though it turned out to be based on a false report. Calls to Greenville police seeking comment were not returned.