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January 23, 2014

Report of campus shooting tests university’s emergency response system

NORMAN — Reports of gunfire on the University of Oklahoma campus Wednesday morning turned out to be a false alarm, but university officials aren’t complaining.

Officials said the incident showcased the efficiency of the university’s shooter response and evacuation plans, which faculty and staff have been reviewing recently.

President David L. Boren said a faculty member in the College of Architecture heard what she thought were gunshots. OU and Norman Police searched Gould Hall and found no evidence of a shooting. Boren and Vice President Nick Hathaway were on the scene within minutes.

“I didn’t hear anything,” said Tom Woodfin, landscape architecture professor in Gould Hall. “I was in my office, and I looked up and there was a uniformed officer carrying a rifle running toward the stairwell outside.”

Woodfin said somebody thought they heard gunshots, so they initiated the active shooter response team.

“It appeared that there were well-organized teams going room to room down the hallways,” he said.

Woodfin said faculty and staff had recently watched a training video about active shooters, so they knew what to do.

Dozens of OU and Norman police officers converged on the scene within minutes of the 11:15 a.m. call. Students, faculty and staff were alerted by text message and emails to avoid Gould Hall and shelter in place.

Police cleared Asp Avenue, north of Lindsey Street. As television helicopters circled overhead, broadcast crews began setting up live feed trucks near Lindsey Street.

After a search, it was determined that the disturbance the professor heard may have been related to ongoing construction of Scholars Walk. A backhoe was being used on the east side of Gould Hall along Asp Avenue. Construction equipment also was being used on the west side of the building along the South Oval.

“We know there is wide-spread interest in the incident that occurred today,” Boren said at an afternoon press conference. “At approximately 11:15, we received a call from the police department. I was able to immediately have the police send out the emergency text to put the campus on lockdown and begin evacuation of Gould Hall. A search has been carried out without panic.

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