EUGENE, Ore.  — An armed man was taken into custody Thursday morning on the University of Oregon campus after he allegedly held two students hostage in a dorm hall and set off a fire alarm in the university’s law school, authorities said..

The suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken into custody without incident after the hostages were able to text his location in the dorm to police. UO Police Chief Matt Carmichael reported that the suspect was well-armed and had additional ammunition. 

The incident started around 3 a.m. Thursday when a fire alarm was pulled in the UO Knight Law Center. The University of Oregon Police checked the security camera footage to find no evidence of fire. They found that a person pulled an alarm while carrying a gun, and they said this at a 2:30 pm Thursday news conference.

Lane County Sheriff’s Office, UO, Springfield and Junction City police responded, locking down and evacuating the building. 

A search of the building was conducted by a Sheriff’s Office drone team and a Springfield police canine unit before an alert was sent out at 6:30 a.m. to the university community asking everyone to avoid the area, Carmichael said. 

Carmichael stated that “a little after the initial fire alarm we received some odd 911 call.”

The 911 calls came from the same cellphone reporting incidents from different areas of campus. Carmichael stated that university police discovered that the cellphone belonged to Hamilton student. The suspect was holding the student and another student hostage in Hamilton. 

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He said that he had quickly found out that the individual was from Knight Law School. 

Carmichael stated that the student’s texting helped police locate the suspect after the suspect had left the room.

According to the chief, the suspect was using his student’s cell phone for 911 calls.

Concern over vague alert

A campus-wide alert was sent shortly after 6:30 am, many hours after the incident. It contained little information beyond “law enforcement activities are occurring near Knight Law”, and advised to stay away from the area. A “all clear” message was transmitted at 8:05 am.

Audrey Kalman is a University of Oregon student who, at 21 years old, expressed dismay that the school had not provided more information informing students of an armed suspect in detention. 

“I cannot imagine what it was like for those students. But even if that were the case, I would be asking myself why we didn’t tell them this.” Kalman stated. Kalman said, “Especially when people are on campus all night. It should have been made clear to students immediately, rather than this vague “law enforcement” thing. 

It felt like they were downplaying the event and stated that previous alerts have detailed what the danger was more. A university alert notified the community about an armed suspect on Oct. 31 and provided his description. 

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Carmichael stated that the alarm was issued at the time people began to return to campus. It was also during a period when there was a significant amount of police in the vicinity. 

He said, “The timeliness of the event was consistent with being safe and secondly making sure that people were aware that there was a fairly large police presence, and we are looking for this particular individual.” 

Classes not in Knight Law proceeded as normal

Agate Street was reported by students as being closed off Thursday morning by police cars. A custodian claimed that police officers entered the law building in guns drawn and with dogs. Witnesses reported seeing few people evacuate due to it being so early.

The law school’s front desk staff declined to comment and doors were still unlocked at 8:40 am. 

A little after 7 a.m. Marcilynn Burke, dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Law, told the law school community in an email to avoid the building and to avoid it even after the all-clear message was sent out. 

Burke stated that classes, meetings and other activities must be moved online today (ZOOM), due to the current situation at the law schools. Burke said, “If this is not possible, please arrange to reschedule these activities.”

Others classes, which were not held in Knight Law’s building, continued as usual. Carmichael stated that there will be an additional police presence at campus on Thursday night in order to feel more secure for the community. 

Follwo Louis Krauss on Twitter @LouisKraussNews


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