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UT Campus Confused During USF Lockdown

Photo by: Max506/flikr

Photo by: Max506/flikr

University of Tampa Safety and Security inspected the Macdonald-Kelce Library Monday after receiving multiple phone calls from students and faculty who believed there was a gunman on campus.

“We were getting phone calls that students were getting text alerts, but we don’t know where the texts were coming from,” said Kevin Howell, assistant director of Campus Safety and Security.

As it turned out, most UT students received the warning text messages from confused friends.  Reports of a gunman occurred that day on the University of South Florida campus, not on the UT campus.

After a series of confusing and scary events at USF, a suspect is in custody for allegedly having a gun and bomb on campus.

The first report of a gunman in the USF library with a bomb alerted University Police at 1:36 p.m.  Shortly after, MoBull text alerts were sent to the USF community and sirens blared. University Police responded to the scene at 1:43 p.m., but made no arrests.  Around the same time, a second person was arrested on campus after being seen with a large knife.  He was later released.

According to The Oracle, USF’s student newspaper, University Police arrested Vincent Thomas-Perry McCoy near the Parking and Transportation Services building on Monday.  He was charged with a felony for false report for planting a bomb on USF property.  While on a campus bus, McCoy told people “I have the bomb right here.”  Members of the Tampa Police bomb squad searched McCoy’s supposed backpack but found no bomb or gun.

While USF was on lockdown, UT Campus Safety and Security was busy inspecting the Macdonald-Kelce Library.  Howell said starting around 2 p.m. the security office received 12 to 18 phone calls of concern.

In response, Howell sent three security officers to do a visual inspection of the library.

“The info we were getting was vague…I thought we were safe,” he said.  During the inspection, Howell said he was notified of a gunman on USF’s campus.

But some students, like April Martin, a UT senior, thought the gunman was on UT’s campus.

“I headed to my car and called some friends to tell them to be safe and get off campus if they could.”

Kasey Colucci, a junior said she does not know anyone at USF she was still worried.  “I updated my Facebook to spread the word and tell students to stay safe.”

Mariana Herrera Mosli, also a junior, said her husband works at USF and was told to stay in his office.

“The situation kept getting more scarier as the hours passed…I couldn’t help but think of all this and pray that my husband and I, both at different schools, can continue to be safe.”

Students were not the only people who heard of an alleged gunman on UT’s campus. Dr. Stephen Kucera, associate professor, biology dismissed his class 10 minutes early because one of his students said UT notified her of a gunman on campus.

“I dismissed class and encouraged students to move in a direction away from the library,” he said.  The student later apologizing for the mix-up, but Kucera said he appreciated the student’s initial notification.

Howell said no notifications were sent to UT students.

Despite false rumors of the gunman on UT’s campus, Howell said he is glad people notified security. “I’d rather people always keep their eyes open on campus for anything out of the ordinary.”

According to The Oracle, as of Tuesday, McCoy was being held in the Hillsborough County Jail on $7,500 bond. This is the fourth incident since May of an alleged gunman on USF’s campus.

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