Indianapolis campus searched after gunman reported

March 19, 2013 12:59:41 PM PDT
Police were searching a university campus in Indianapolis on Tuesday after a student reported seeing a man carrying a rifle or shotgun near its medical school.

The search began at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis after a student told police she was walking to her car around 12:30 p.m. when she saw a man wearing a long brown coat and carrying a long gun, IUPUI police Capt. Bill Abston said. Investigators said the woman lost sight of him, so they didn't know whether he left on foot or in a car. Police later received two additional reports of sightings.

The downtown campus, which has about 30,000 students, issued an alert for students and staff to seek shelter, and buildings were being searched by campus police and Indianapolis Metro police. Two hospitals affiliated with the medical school, University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children, were locked down, as were a nearby high school and the NCAA headquarters.

"It's very challenging when we get something like this. There are a lot of main streets in and out and a lot of people," Abston said.

Abston said officers would keep searching until they had checked all the buildings and parking lots.

Kamakshi Sishtla, a lab technician at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said she initially hid in a small, windowless equipment room in the building where she works, which is across the street from where the man first was spotted. "I thought, 'Better to be safe than sorry," Sishtla said.

Cory Olson, a 43-year-old nursing student, said he was in the nursing building when police came in and evacuated the building.

"The police officers sent everybody out. Someone said, 'Where do we go?' and he said, 'Anywhere but here.'"

About an hour into the search, some students were wandering around outside campus buildings and watching police cars lined up in the distance. Dan Engling, a 23-year-old public health student, said he and other students weren't overly concerned.

"It's kind of breaking up the monotony, people think it's interesting," he said.