Update: DSU cancels classes, events after lockdown

A bus blocks the main gate at Delaware State University Tuesday. Two helicopters hovered overhead. Photo by Craig Anderson

DOVER – Remaining classes were canceled Tuesday after investigation a possible shooter on campus put Delaware State University into lockdown mode for nearly two hours.

Via email and text at 10:03 a.m., the school sent an emergency alert to its community regarding anonymous texts received by students about a potential shooter on campus.

The campus was deemed safe at 11:45 a.m. after police checked all university buildings, according to Executive Vice President/Provost Dr. Tony Allen in a statement.

“Again, I want to emphasize that there was no active shooter on campus, our protocols functioned as intended, and police units responded immediately,” he said.

The school said the scheduled Convocation Ceremony was also canceled as well as all events for the remainder of the day.

Jordan Simmons, a sophomore, drove toward campus but was denied entry as the situation unfolded.

“It was worried about my cousins and friends and began trying to contact them to see if they were OK,” he said. “Eventually I reached them and found out everything was fine.

“I was worried though because this type of thing (a shooting) can happen anywhere these days. I’m just glad they got it settled and nothing happened.”

Following an alert, senior Cassie Sampogna’s social psychology class was moved into a Delaware Hall room with a lock on the door. Some students took naps, others began working on assignments, she said.

While there was confusion and the unknown of what was happening, fear and dread never arose.

“Not personally for me and I don’t think the rest of the room was feeling it either,” Ms. Sampogna said.

Walking onto DSU grounds to begin his morning, freshman Gideon Patz saw “some cops near the wellness center.” He didn’t find that alarming since “you see police around all the time.”

‘It was serious’

Mr. Patz entered the Bank of America building and an official lockdown began soon afterward.

“There were a lot of people at the windows trying to find out what was going on,” he said. “There was generally a lot of confusion.”

In the midst of a math class, Jaymia Benson said “someone walked in and said there was a shooter. Our teacher locked the door and turned off all the lights …

“In high school we practiced for an emergency but this was real. It was serious.”

Michelle Crockett and her sound production classmates locked their room and began searching social media to learn more.

“We were pulling from all different sources trying to figure out what exactly was going on,” she said. “Our phones weren’t always working which made it difficult.

“Once we had an idea of what was happening we started discussing different scenarios and how things could be handled differently.

“This was the first time for us and I think we all learned something.”

Besides DSU Police, Capitol, Dover and Delaware State Police all responded.

Dr. Allen described the incident as causing “significant anxiety and alarm among our students and employees,” but “I am pleased to report our protocols functioned well.

“Administrators, faculty, and staff moved quickly and professionally to locate students in safe areas of campus buildings and kept them there until released.”

A Capital School District spokesperson said late Tuesday morning that their schools were in a “heightened level of security because of a report of an alleged threat” at DSU.

The main gate at DSU, off U.S. 13, was blocked to traffic at 11 a.m. The gate was closed and blocked by a large DSU Hornets bus. An unmarked police vehicle with activated lights blocked the turn lane, where just over a dozen cars were waiting to turn into campus. At one point, two helicopters hovered above the scene.

Otherwise, traffic flowed past the campus without delay.

A small crowd of media formed, with a few onlookers and police present outside the gates. Vehicles and students eventually began exiting the campus after the area was deemed safe.

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