False alarm: 'Gunman' at University of Houston was employee with equipment

Published On: Mar 11 2013 01:32:24 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 05 2013 05:05:46 PM CST

March 5, 2013: A report of a gunman on the University of Houston's main campus turns out to be a false alarm. Amy Davis reports.

HOUSTON -

A report of a gunman on the University of Houston's main campus turned out to be a false alarm.

The university sent out an emergency text alert shortly after noon Tuesday that warned students that an armed man was spotted near Hoffman Hall.

About 12:30 p.m., university officials said they found the suspicious person, who got the text message and realized that he was the target of the search.

That person turned out to be an employee with a handheld scanning device used to keep track of inventory. Someone had mistaken it for a gun, officials said.

"He was embarrassed, but even in his embarrassment, he didn't hesitate to call," UH Assistant Police Chief Katherine Smith said. "I think he got some ribbing from his officemates about it."

Students and staff in one building jumped into action, just in case there really was a gunman on campus.

"There were three doors in the building, so we had 10 to 12 people at each door. People that had mace, Tasers, any type of protection, we had them bring it down for the people at the door. Anybody that had military training, we had them come down as supervisors for each group. We were prepared," student Godson Azie said.

Smith said there are bags for the scanning devices that employees will use in the future to prevent another scare.

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