In addition to making a bomb threat against the College of Charleston Tuesday, a man told dispatchers he was going to bring a gun on campus and shoot people, according to an incident report released by the school’s Department of Public Safety today.
At about 10:39 a.m. Tuesday, the man called Charleston County’s Consolidated 911 Center and said he had placed two bombs in the college’s Beatty Center. The dispatch center notified CofC’s Department of Public Safety at 10:41 a.m., and law enforcement officers started evacuating people from Beatty and several surrounding buildings. After the evacuation, the caller made a second threat, according to the report: He “said that he was on his way to the New School of Education with a gun with the intention of shooting people inside.” It remains unclear whether the caller stayed on the line the whole time or made a second call.
Officers evacuated the education building, but unlike the bomb threat, the shooting threat was not broadcast over the college’s Cougar Alert emergency notification system. Meanwhile students were congregating on St. Philip Street, north of the crime scene tape, watching the investigation unfold.
Asked why the college never issued a follow-up Cougar Alert about the gun threat, CofC Police Chief Robert Reese gave the following statement:
“Based on the facts at the scene, law enforcement agencies on the ground made a professional judgment to not add ‘possible shooter’ to the notifications on campus. That information may have created unnecessary panic and hindered the work of the emergency professionals on the scene.”
By this time, campus and city police officers had closed off the perimeter around the affected buildings, according to the report. Officers started patrolling outside the perimeter searching for a gunman because “he was not located in the area he claimed to be.”
With help from the explosive ordnance teams at the State Ports Authority, U.S. Air Force, and Charleston Police Department, SWAT team members entered the buildings and used X-rays to examine three backpacks that had been left behind in the Beatty Center, Wachovia Auditorium, and the Tate Center. Finding no explosives inside, they then searched the buildings floor by floor and found no bombs. They also reported finding no people remaining in the buildings.
Police announced at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday that no bombs had been found, and the campus was reopened.
Here’s the full incident report: