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Reported shooting at Howard University proved to be a hoax

Police received multiple reports of an active shooter on Howard University’s campus on Tuesday. After a thorough investigation, authorities found no evidence of a shooting, but the incident caused a major disruption for students and staff.

Authorities received multiple calls about an active shooter at the university, with one person reporting a shooting at the College of Medicine building while another reported a shooting at Howard’s administrative building.

Police sent over 100 officers in response and searched the campus buildings and closed streets, putting the campus under lock-down for two hours. Howard University was preparing to celebrate their homecoming when the incident occurred, but still opted to continue with celebrations.

According to authorities, calls came after a student’s ex-boyfriend repeatedly threatened her and warned her about being on campus. Several officials said the man had been rejected from the university’s medical program and barred from the Northwest Washington campus two weeks before the incident. They believe the calls were made by people concerned about the young woman’s safety, fueled by false rumors. Authorities said that because the incident turned out to be a hoax, the sources of the calls made to police could face charges.

Officials said they had not determined the source of the calls, but they believe some or all of the calls may have come from the ex-girlfriend’s friends or relatives. Authorities are also exploring whether allegations about a shooting circulated on social media before calls to the police were made.

Howard University’s president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, was asked by the Washington Post if police notified students quickly enough, and said “I think that we were doing the best we could with the limited information we had.”

Should a similar event occur at UMBC, the police department offers information on their website that covers what to do in a variety of emergencies, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, campus shootings, etc.

According to Paul Dillon, the UMBC Deputy Chief, the best advice during an active shooting “is to immediately flee the area of the shooting, put as much distance between yourself and the shooter as possible. If you are unable to flee then you should hide, preferably in a place that can be locked or barricaded and keep yourself out of sight.”