ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF police are apologizing for how they initially alerted students when searching for a man with a gun on campus.
- UCF student found with BB gun on campus
- 911 calls initially reported gun seen, potential active shooter
- Students notified to take shelter
The gun in question turned out to be a BB gun, however, the first emergency text alert students received didn't mention a possible shooter.
It only said, "If you're in the area of Tower One, seek shelter immediately."
One student said he thought it was a weather warning at first, until word got through the grapevine.
"I feel like social media kind of messed things up because everything gets out of proportion," freshman JJ Gonzalez said.
Police said someone was seen going into a room on the second floor of Tower 1 dorms with a realistic-looking gun, which was tucked inside the student's waistband.
After receiving a 911 call, UCF police made the call for an emergency shelter alert to be sent out to students' cellphones. However, the first alert was generic and said to shelter in place, which is typically sent out during weather events.
"I checked the weather app. And my next thought was one threat to the campus. And come to find out there was a school shooter threat, so that was pretty intimidating," freshman Elijah McCormick said.
Police Chief Carl Metzger said they use generic shelter alerts for different situations and one of those was used, which is why there was confusion at first about what was going on.
"We should have been much more specific in the way they pushed out that alert, and this is one of those times where we own it, we learn from it, and we move on," Chief Metzger said.
As rumors started to spread of a possible shooter, police sent out five text alerts over the course of several hours, each with more information than the last.
"Call received about person with firearm in waistband," the second alert said.
More than 20 UCF police officers and Orange County deputies responded to the scene. And police are promising to do more to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"We'll take just a few more minutes and phrase it the right way," Chief Metzger said. "There's people in these dorms that went to Stoneman Douglas too, so I can just imagine their point of view."
BB guns are not allowed on campus so the student who brought it will be facing conduct sanctions with the school.