POSTED: 6:51 a.m. HST, Apr 4, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 9:14 a.m. HST, Apr 4, 2013
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. » The University of Rhode Island ended a lockdown after about 2 hours today, and said despite reports of an active shooter on its South Kingstown campus, an investigation revealed there was no gun or active shooter at any time.
The school canceled classes for the rest of today, and said they would resume Friday.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven O'Donnell said there was a report of a shooter in Chafee Hall, an eight-story tower that houses several departments including psychology, journalism and economics, along with some administration offices.
The school did not immediately offer details on what prompted the investigation. But one student told The Associated Press it was prompted by what happened midway through her 11 a.m. physiology class.
"All of a sudden, we heard someone yell, 'You're a nice guy! You're a nice guy!' and sounding scared," said Tori Danielson, who was sitting in the back of a lecture hall in a class of more than 350 people. "Everybody started running and screaming out of the room, and our professor told us all to run. And everybody just ran out."
Danielson said she did not hear gun shots and did not see anyone get hurt.
"I didn't hear anybody say that there was a weapon, and I didn't see if there was. I was too far away," she said.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the school continued to tell people to stay where they are. It also canceled classes for the day.
URI students Michael Wharton and Robert Ferrante were on their way to an animal science class at Chafee Hall when they saw people streaming out of the building. Wharton, an 18-year-old freshman, said he heard someone yell 'Go, go! He's got a gun."
The two roommates then ran back to their dorm room.
"It was chaos," Ferrante, a 19-year-old freshman, said of the scene.
Paige Comstock, a 19-year-old sophomore, was on the second floor of Chafee Hall in a journalism class when the incident occurred. She said some of her classmates said they heard screams, though she did not. An alarm went off and a voice came over the loudspeaker warned of an emergency in the building.
"We didn't know if it was a drill," she said, but then an administrator told everyone to leave immediately.
As she was going out, Comstock said she saw more than a dozen police officers rushing into the building.
Associated Press writer Michelle R. Smith contributed to this report from Providence.