Questions remain after Binnewies Hall locks down during gun incident

Jordan Smith Managing Editor

University Police officers responded to a report of a man with a gun inside Binnewies Hall on the night of Sept. 12. 

According to Bob Otterson, Executive Assistant to the President, a UPD dispatcher received a phone call Thursday 11:09 p.m. with a report of a male with a gun in Binnewies Hall. Within one minute, the first office arrived on the scene. Two more arrived after that and within four minutes officers from UPD and Brookings PD were on the scene as well.

Officials with UPD said the incident is still under investigation and denied The Collegian’s requests to see an incident report or a police report, referring any additional questions to UPD Police Chief Tim Heaton. Heaton did not return multiple requests for comment prior to this issue of The Collegian going to press.

Students living in Binnewies Hall described the situation as controlled but many students didn’t know what was going on.

Freshman psychology major Amber LaBelle was sleeping when the incident began, but received a text message from her roommate, who was in the library at the time, asking if she was okay. LaBelle then called another student on her floor and found out there may be a person with a gun in the building, who was spotted on the third floor and she should stay in her room and keep the door locked. 

“I locked my door, but didn’t know what was going on,” LaBelle said. 

A few minutes later, her roommate arrived at the room but according to LaBelle, it was about 20 minutes after this that CAs let students know it was safe to unlock their doors. All in all, LaBelle thought that the residence hall was in lockdown for about 45 minutes.

“I was in the bathroom when police barged in, looking for a man with a gun,” freshman theatre and math education major Molly Wyman said. “I went in to a friends room and stayed there until we hear a yell that it was all clear.”

Officers responded to the situation described to the dispatcher, according to Otterson.

“It is my understanding that it was an airsoft gun, which is not allowed in the residence halls because it sends a projectile and looks like a firearm,”Otterson said.

Jesse Markus, freshman wildlife and fisheries major, was on the second floor in Binnewies Hall with friends in their room when he heard there was someone with a gun in the building. 

“Minutes later, a cop yelled down the hallway for us to close and lock our door,” Markus said.

According to Otterson, residents of Binnewies Hall were very cooperative with police and expressed their appreciation for police response.

“I saw a cop running down the hallway, he had his gun out, and then he went outside,” said Tyler Buckman, a freshman electrical engineering major. Buckman was on the second floor at the time of the incident.

According to Markus, CAs informed the students that their doors could be unlocked but they received no further information regarding what had happened. The adjoining hall to Binnewies, Young Hall, was not locked down at any point during the incident.

Otterson said that the person seen and referred to in the report to dispatchers was taken to UPD for questioning. He said the police file has been forwarded to the state’s attorney.