San Jose police swarmed the campus of San Jose State University Thursday morning after someone reported seeing a person with a gun walk into Sweeney Hall. Marianne Favro report.
San Jose State University students inside Sweeney Hall were on lockdown Thursday morning after someone called police to report seeing a man dressed in black with a gun — but after a two-hour search he was nowhere to be found.
Just before 11 a.m., the lockdown was declared over, and university officials said a "thorough search" of the hall, which houses the College of Education, revealed nothing. No one was arrested and no one was injured.
That brought a sigh of relief to many students — some of whom were so scared that they initially wouldn't let campus police inside their classrooms to search for a suspect because they had locked their doors out of fear.
"The atmosphere was really tense in class," said student Rylan Harper, who was on the second floor of Sweeney Hall during the lockdown. "When the police came in, I was really scared. They made everyone quiet down."
Another student, Ashliegh Nikol, told NBC Bay that three police officers came into her classroom with their guns drawn and were walking down classroom aisles. One of the officers was overheard telling the professor that they were "looking for a guy with a gun and to stay in class until the alert says we can leave."
It was especially surreal for her because as the helicopters were flying overhead searching for the suspect, she was in a "Gothic Horror" literature class, which happened to be studying "The Shining."
They were among the 300 students in Sweeney Hall — and no other buildings — put on lockdown about 9 a.m., after SJSU spokeswoman Pat Harris said a "credible" report came in about a white man wearing all black clothes, possibly armed with a handgun, seen walking near the building in the southwest quadrant of campus near the South Parking Garage on San Salvador Street at Seventh Street.
Students in other classrooms were not asked to shelter in place.
Student Jonathan Aguayo told NBC Bay Area that he saw the man, and it looked like he was carrying a rifle. That man was not found.
At about 10:30 a.m., an NBC Bay Area photographer witnessed an undercover female police officer detaining a man - wearing a black trench coat, T-shirt, black backpack and jeans - for a time on campus. But he was soon released.
Batches of emergency text alerts were sent by the university to students and staff: the first was issued at 9:22 a.m. It read: "Man with gun call - police checking Sweeney Hall - shelter in place."
Other texts were sent in waves, which may explain why on Twitter, some were complaining that they didn't get the message. The university sent out many messages, by email, text and Twitter, among others, to keep the community informed.
Per UPD: Sweeney Hall shelter in place. All others stay out of the immediate area. The rest of campus is open for business.
— SJSU (@SJSU) October 10, 2013
SJSU's student-run newspaper the Spartan Daily posted a photo of scene to Instagram:
Below is a map of the campus with Sweeney Hall imared with a red "A."
NBC Bay Area's Alan Waples, Gonzalo Rojas, Tim Bollinger and Lori Preuitt contributed to this article.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Lisa Fernandez is an adjunct professor at San Jose State University and some of her students are quoted in this story.