MUNCIE — Ball State University was partially locked down for hours Friday after several witnesses reported hearing someone shouting "gun!" in a campus building, prompting a police search that ended with no sign of a weapon or armed person.
The university sent an all-clear notice about 7:50 p.m. EST Friday, some three hours after issuing an alert reporting a "possible armed assailant" near the Muncie campus' Student Recreation and Wellness Center. The all-clear notice said the campus was secure.
Ball State spokesman Tony Proudfoot said multiple witnesses alerted campus police after hearing someone repeatedly shout "gun!" on the Recreation and Wellness Building's third-floor running track. He said the search of several buildings on the campus about 60 miles northeast of Indianapolis turned up no sign of a weapon.
"We're very pleased that this turned out to be no threat to the campus," he said. "We didn't find any safety issues."
Proudfoot said only four buildings on the 700-acre campus that contains 100 buildings were affected by the security alert as campus police, Muncie police and Indiana State Police troopers conducted sweeps through those buildings.
Junior Krystal Palmer, an art education major from Dayton, Ohio, said she had been locked in a classroom during the police sweep. She expressed concern that she learned about the incident through other students before the university sent its alert. She said there have been other cases where the campus alert was delayed.
"Usually it's fine because it's not anything big, but other times we've found out from social media before we've gotten the message, which is kind of scary because it might not be soon enough," she said.
Proudfoot said there was no delay in the university sending out its initial emergency alert on the situation. He said students or others at the scene likely began tweeting as soon as word spread about someone shouting "gun!"
"There was no delay. We have to keep in mind that social media is instantaneous — someone could instantly tweet from the site," he said.