IU Southeast all-clear after lockdown


Jims Porter

A student who brought a BB gun to use as a prop in his acting class sent the IU Southeast campus into lockdown the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 5.

University officials received a report of an individual on campus with what appeared to be a 9mm handgun at 2:50 p.m. Dana Wavle, vice chancellor for Administration and FInance, said the university immediately enacted the active shooter protocol, informing students, faculty and staff via telephone, text message and email of “an armed individual at large.”

The original message, sent at 3:01 p.m., instructed those on campus to “take shelter in the nearest available room and lock the door.” This report was lifted at 3:39, when IUS officials sent a second message, stating that the subject had been identified and individuals on campus were not in any danger.

The subject, an unnamed student, had reportedly been on campus for his Acting 1 final. Another student in the class, Michael Gardner, business sophomore, said students were required to enact a scene from “The Dumb Waiter” by Harold Painter.

“At the end of the scene, one of the characters gets shot,” Gardner said.

The theater department has university-approved prop firearms, but the subject had brought his own airsoft gun to use in the scene.

“Everyone in the theater department knew it was a prop,” he said, “but obviously, when he left the class, somebody saw it in his pocket and didn’t know what it was.”

A statement released by the Office of University Communications confirmed that the “subject and weapon in question was determined to be a student who brought a hand-gun style BB gun to campus to use as a prop for a theater class.”

Morgan Schultz, political science sophomore, was returning from lunch when she received the message informing her of the situation. She and 10 other students took shelter in the Phi Sigma Sigma office, where they locked the door.

“We were texting all of our sisters,” she said, “because we heard it happened in Knobview Hall, and a lot of them were in class there.”

They continued trying to contact others on campus to make sure they were safe and get more information.

“I want to applaud the school for having a good system in place,” Schultz said. “Even though nothing happened, at least they take these things very seriously, and they care enough about the students to make sure there’s a game plan.”

The whole process, Wavle said, took about 40 minutes start to finish. Campus police called in help from surrounding agencies, including the New Albany Police Department and Floyd County Sheriff. All of the buildings on campus were locked down as police checked the status of each one. Officials examined footage from surveillance videos where they obtained a description of the subject, who contacted the university when he received the alert.

“He matched the description,” Wavle said, “and is on his way back to campus to have a discussion now.”

Wavle said all campus procedures worked exactly the way they are intended to and the school should be proud that the right procedures were in place and that all processes worked.

“The communications system was extraordinary. We are really pleased with the way this was handled, and I think the officers did a great job responding in a timely manner, following the protocols, and getting additional help from the local agencies. We are very relieved that it ended with the outcome it did and that everything went well.”