Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Virginia Tech, site of 2007 massacre, in gun scare ordeal

Reuters, WASHINGTON

Authorities reopened the Virginia Tech campus after an hours-long lockdown on Thursday following a report of a gunman at the university where 32 people were killed in a mass shooting in 2007.

“The campus alert is lifted. There will continue to be a large police presence on campus today,” the university said on its Web site more than five hours after the lockdown was ordered.

Police have not discovered any additional information about a person possibly carrying a weapon, it said.

On Thursday morning, the school ordered everyone to stay inside and canceled classes after three 14-year-old girls attending a Higher Achievement camp on campus reported seeing a white man carrying what appeared to be a gun covered with a cloth.

“You had a report from students ... that they thought they might have seen someone with a gun,” said Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker. “In this day and age we don’t think that we had any other choice than to issue an alert.”

Activity at the school, which houses dozens of academic and sports camps for children over the summer vacation, ground to a halt after the lockdown was issued around 9:30am and students were told to stay away.

Virginia Tech, formally known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, was criticized for not reacting quickly enough in April 2007 when gunman Cho Seung-Hui killed 32 people and then himself on the campus.

It responded quickly this time, and Hincker said the alert mechanisms to students and the community worked well.

After sending out an initial warning on its Web site, the school issued regular updates, as did the city of Blacksburg.

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