Dalhousie students question university’s response to report of gunman in library

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Dalhousie students question school’s response to weapons complaint in library
Dalhousie University students in the campus library were ordered to shelter in place on Tuesday afternoon, after a weapons-related complaint . The university issued multiple alerts but some students say they’re left with more questions than answers. Amber Fryday reports – Mar 27, 2024

Students at Dalhousie University are looking for answers after a large police presence gathered at the school’s Killam Library on Tuesday after a man with a gun was reportedly spotted in the area.

The university delivered four safety alerts over 40 minutes, with the first coming at 2:12 p.m., causing some disruption among the student population. The initial message asked students at the library to shelter in place before following up minutes later to state people could exit the building but not enter as police were checking each floor.

Mandy King, a Dalhousie student, said she wished the university’s communication would’ve been more succinct following such an alarming occurrence.

“We got one (alert) and it was kind of jarring, and then one that followed up almost immediately to say, ‘We’re not sure so don’t leave the library’, and then a third one to say nothing was found,” she said.

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The third alert came at 2:27 p.m. and said the library was not being evacuated, but students were free to leave should they choose, as police continued a precautionary search “in relation to a suspicious phone call.”

A fourth alert came at 2:39 p.m. once the search was complete. Police determined there was no threat in the area.

“We recognize the significant disruption and upset an event like this will cause,” read the final alert issued by Dalhousie.

Elise Parekh, who was on campus at the time, said she was walking outdoors when she saw several police cars in the distance.

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“Nobody had any idea what was going on,” she said. “We thought it was someone with a gun, but then they told us later that it was a suspected phone call that they thought somebody might have one.”

Ellie Garry-Jones, another Dalhousie student, said she thought the university handled the situation to the best of its ability.

“It was a little bit scary. You don’t really know what’s going on if you hear that someone has a weapon or even a gun in your school,” she said, adding that receiving the contradicting messages in rapid succession did cause a bit of confusion. “A couple minutes after we got the email, I was seeing six or seven police cars outside so that was a little jarring.”

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In a release on Tuesday afternoon, Halifax Regional Police said officers responded to a report of “a man with a gun” in the area of the Killam Library at 6216 Coburg Rd. around 2 p.m.

“Officers attended and checked the building and surrounding area. The man was not located,” the release said. “There were no other reports in relation to the man and there were no reported injuries.”

Eamon Quill, who’s studying at Dalhousie, said he isn’t concerned about his safety on campus despite the weapons report on Tuesday.

“I’m just interested as to what happened,” he said. “All I really know is that someone apparently saw someone with a weapon, called the cops, and it went from there. I don’t think many people actually know what’s going on.”

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Quill said there is a lack of information at the moment regarding what initiated the report.

“I can definitely see some people being a little bit worried,” he said.

Dalhousie University declined to comment further on the issue and directed Global News to the Halifax Regional Police.

Halifax Police didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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