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Weapons Scare Tests Alert System

 Student tip-off triggers Boston University Police Response
February 4, 2009--5:35 PM

Boston University Police, Boston Police, and Massachusetts State Troopers responded to a report of a man with weapons materials in the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) today after receiving a tip from a Boston University student.

The suspect was a white male between the ages of 22 and 25, heavy-set, short brown hair wearing a green three-quarter-length jacket, according to BUPD spokesman Sgt Jack St. Hilaire. "[the witness] said the guy was crouched down looking out the window at comm ave in the staircase."

Police and SWAT cars in front of BU's               
The student reported that the man had a magazine for a 
College of Arts and Sciences.                            
semi-automatic pistol, into which he had loaded at least
Photo taken at 1:06 pm                                    
one round.  "He said he never saw a gun," added Sgt St. Hilaire.

    Police surrounded the area and conducted a search of the entire building, but failed to apprehend the suspect.  
    An alert went on the Boston University Emergency Alert System at 12:50 pm, sending emails, voice mails, and text messages to every BU student who was in compliance with University regulations.

    The messages said there was police activity at 705 Commonwealth Avenue and warned students to stay clear of the area.

    But not every student got the message on time. 

    "I keep my phone on silent during class, so I didn't get any of the texts or voice mails until later after I walked outside to see police officers flanking the doors and a video camera pointed at me," said Zoe Kool, a sophomore who was just leaving her Arabic class.

    She added that there were crowds of students trying to see the action and figure out what was going on.  "Apparently the warning to stay away from CAS wasn't very effective," she said.

Sgt St. Hilaire said police did not give more details in the warning because they did not feel anyone was in immediate danger and did not want to create a panic.

"It was a good test for the response of the responding agencies, because we were there immediately, it worked very well," he said, "so it was actually a good measure for our BU alert system."

Details on the number of police respondents were unavailable at publication.
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