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Posted on Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:02 a.m.

University of Michigan police investigate report of armed man in Chemistry Building

By Tom Perkins

The University of Michigan Department of Public Safety is continuing to investigate a report of a man with a gun in the campus's Chemistry Building late Sunday night.

DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said an employee reported walking into the building's atrium just before midnight and encountering a man sitting on a ledge pointing a small, black handgun at her.

She continued walking, and when she returned a few minutes later, the man was gone, the employee said. Brown said the man was at an unknown distance, and she did not know what, if anything, he said to the employee.

DPS officers combed the building at 930 North University Ave., but were unable to find anyone matching the suspect's description. Brown said police talked to several other employees and students who were in the building at the time but were unaware of the situation.

No injuries or shots fired were reported. The DPS issued an "all clear" around 1:15 a.m.

Brown said officers will interview the employee again today to determine what happened and "to get more of an understanding whether it was really a handgun or what it might have been."

The man the employee saw is described as a college-age, white male with a thin to medium build and brown hair. He was said to be wearing a dark hat and dark sweatshirt. Anybody with any information should contact the DPS.



Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 4:48 a.m.

Seriously, the worst case scenario is pretty serious: IF there was a man sitting in a university building with a hand gun "in the middle of the night" - it might mean there's someone out there forming a pattern which could develop into another mass murder - this time on OUR college campus. Judging from the statistics, it probably won't work out like that. But I hope UM-DPS investigates thoroughly and remains on alert. Until I hear that the incident was truly innocuous, I'll withhold any sarcastic or skeptical comments. I just imagine how I'd feel - after a real tragedy occurred. As for what someone should do if they are confronted with such a scenario: the best thing to do (at minimum) is to get out of sight and take a position where you can see if the "gunman" is following. If they are following / pursuing - then, from cover, take aim and fire. (Regardless that you "don't have a forbidden self defense weapon per policy.") It's a matter of preference: between being tried by twelve or carried (to your grave) by six.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

I hope DPS investigates thoroughly too. So if the facts are: A person believes she sees a man with a gun She walks away Returns and sees he is gone She calls the police who search and find nothing Police interview people in the building who know nothing What do you suppose they can do further to thoroughly investigate? Does not seem to me there are any leads to go on - unless there are leads with held from Real life is not CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, etc.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

don't call me in the middle of the night when i'm miles away.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

The employee felt threatened. Maybe the person had a gun, maybe they didn't. If she had a gun and shot the person would she have been justified? If it had been a DPS officer, would they have been justified? What is the difference between a police officer's right to protect themselves and that of a citizen?


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

"What is the difference between a police officer's right to protect themselves and that of a citizen?" To my knowledge the only difference is that officers are allowed to put themselves in harms way and still react accordingly. A citizen who does so risks much more even in the aftermath of the incident if they didn't attempt to disengage first. Even though there is no duty to retreat in MI, there will always be the question, "why didn't you simply retreat/avoid the confrontation?" Otherwise the larger question is what is the difference between an officer and a civilian? Nothing except those powers given to them by the rest of the citizens to effectively perform their duties, and that officer's courage and sense of duty. IANAL

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

i wonder if a rhebuttal will show up.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

annoying... i was trying to tell you of at least 1 case that i know of... where the public was not fully informed by the UofM DPS of a potential health hazard. so it related to this topic and added another angle to it. but someone censored it.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

trespass, i had a response to your comment, but it was censored. i'm not sure why.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

""to get more of an understanding whether it was really a handgun or what it might have been." in otherwords... what you see isn't always what you think it is, so if you can't prove it was a working handgun, it may not have been one. case closed?


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

Why did it take an hour between the witnesses report and the crime alert? Then the DPS messed up sending the message. If it had been an actual shooter an hour would have been a very long time. West Virginia just got a $55,000 fine under the Clery Act for taking two hours to report a shooting. The University claims that student safety is their most important priority. If so, this should be scandal and the administration should be open about the investigation and what they do to fix it.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

Of course if a report like this is received the most important thing to do is to get a crime alert out, not do any investigation to determine whether or not the report is valid. It is a far better idea to drop everything and make sure the alert gets out, then investigate. Thinking like this drives me nuts

Blue Marker

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

I know they have my best interest at heart but I was very mad at 1 AM when my phone rang to alert me of this. It's part of the UM employee alert network. And you can imagine it was even worse at 1:30 when the phone rang again to let me know it was all clear. I need to figure out how to get my name off that list.

Bacon Bits

Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

If you don't want to get calls when there is an emergency, why did you opt in to receive them?


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Do we know if the employee's observations are true or accurate? Maybe it was just a Hash Bash "pipe dream". Maybe the "gun" was only a hash pipe.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Right, something doesn't add up here. Must be more or less to this story.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

Probably less.


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 4 p.m.

must be a mistake, guns aren't allowed on campus...


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

hmmm, Katie, do you mean to say that just because the campus bans firearms that there are people who would deliberately break that ordinance? That would be horrible!


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

And no one ever breaks the law, so... she must have imagined it!


Mon, Apr 4, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

"a man sitting on a ledge pointing a small, black handgun at her. She continued walking, and when she returned a few minutes later" REALLY? If someone pointed a handgun at me I wouldn't be returning to the area, I'd walk a way and call the cops immedately. Something doesn't add up here. Right after Hash Bash? Hmm..