‘Very fortunate’: LSU responds to false alarm security scare

Coates Hall was eerily quiet on LSU's campu after a frightening two-hour situation where an...
Coates Hall was eerily quiet on LSU's campu after a frightening two-hour situation where an officer in plain clothes was mistaken for an armed intruder.(WAFB)
Updated: Aug. 21, 2019 at 11:55 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU officials gave the all clear on campus just minutes before 5 p.m. after reports came in hours earlier of an armed intruder on campus at Coates Hall.

A spokesperson with the university says they believe an off-duty officer in plain clothes was walking around with a gun on his belt, which likely sparked the initial call. Ernie Ballard, the media relations director for the school, says they’re still trying to verify these reports, but that an off-duty officer was in fact on campus at an event earlier in the day Tuesday.

LSU President F. King Alexander provided a statement on Wednesday about the incident.

“We are very fortunate that yesterday’s situation was a false alarm,” Alexander said. “All too often around the country and the world, such events have tragic endings."

Here is a message from LSU President F. King Alexander regarding yesterday’s campus emergency: https://campaigns.omniupdate.com/t/ViewEmail/d/429B0E7A7D07874E2540EF23F30FEDED

Posted by LSU on Wednesday, August 21, 2019

“This is precisely how we hope that our students, faculty and staff react in these moments."

Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Wednesday the officer was from his office, on campus as part of their Welcome Week activities to educate students about online safety ahead of the fall semester.

As for the “run, hide, or fight” message that was sent out to faculty, staff, and students, Ballard had this to say: “As the national standard message we do in these types of situations."

The school sent the initial text alert out just minutes before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20 that an armed intruder was in Coates Hall. The building was immediately evacuated and those in the building were advised to run, hide, or fight.

After hours of searching the campus, no armed individual was found, officials say. There were also no reports of any shots fired or any injuries.

WAFB spoke with students and professors who were on campus when the incident happened.

LSU instructor, Dr. Edwards Gibbons, says he didn’t hesitate when he saw this alert go out.

“We all locked our doors, locked down the school doors, turned the lights out, locked our office doors and just waited,” he said.

One junior was forced to shelter in place in the Student Union.

“We just kind of got alerts and everyone was trying to leave, and they just blocked off the doors and told us we have to stay,” said Brookelynn Duke, a student at LSU.

“And I got a text from my roommate saying that she was in a full lockdown. She actually works in a lab on campus. She was just asking for prayers, and [saying] we’re all safe, they told us not to make any noise or anything,” said Katie Fisk, another student at LSU.

Officials are still reiterating that if anyone sees something out of the ordinary or suspicious on campus to alert LSU Police so they can fully investigate and determine if a threat is actually credible. Students and employees can register their phones to get those emergency alerts at my.lsu.edu.

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