No gun involved in Illinois State University lock down

By WEEK Producer

February 12, 2013 Updated Feb 13, 2013 at 1:05 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- Students on the campus of Illinois State University are breathing a sigh of relief tonight after a gun threat has been put to rest.

The campus was on temporary lock down on Tuesday following a report of a man with a weapon on campus.

"I was just like I am trying to get my English class and a lady said that there is someone around here with a weapon," said ISU Freshman, Lauren Kelley. "She told me to just sit in my English class and keep the door locked."

"I looked around because they said he had dread locks and was wearing a black sweat shirt with red stripes," said student Darrick Emery. "I made sure no one around me was wearing that. I asked around to see if anyone else got the text messages. It's pretty scary."

Students all over Illinois State University's campus had a similar reaction when they received an emergency alert text shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"A man from Chicago, not an ISU student, was visiting an Illinois State University student at Wright Hall," said ISU Spokesman, Jay Groves. "She later told her boyfriend that the man had a gun so the boyfriend called the police."

Campus dining halls and residence halls were put on lock down along with a select group of classrooms.

A man-hunt was on for the alleged suspect, Nathan Thomas.

About an hour later, Thomas was apprehended by Normal Police near the uptown station in Normal and turned over to Illinois State University Police.

However, after interviewing Thomas, authorities said there was no weapon involved in the incident. The original police call was based on a threat Thomas made and the possibility that he might have access to a weapon.

ISU spokesman Jay Groves said he is proud of the alert system, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

"We take this situation very seriously," said Groves. "The campus police, the campus emergency people, and our communication people drill constantly for situations like this. We hope it never happens, but when it does happen we have to be prepared and we are."

No arrests have been made and police continue to investigate the incident.

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