CWU ‘active shooter’ situation started with rumors about upset student
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University has learned more about the events leading up to Wednesday’s false reports of an active shooter on campus.
The university says a Ellensburg police and CWU police were made aware of a student who was upset and making threatening statements, and several authorities contacted CWU’s Case Management Services Office asking them to lock their doors as a precaution around 4:40 p.m.
About 35 minutes later, a student at Farrell Hall contacts 911 to confirm there is an active shooter on campus. The dispatcher says there are no reports of an active shooter and asks if the student is reporting one. The student advises the dispatcher “he heard that there was an active shooter and that Lind Hall is being evacuated.”
Based on the student’s comment, 911 send out a county- wide emergency notification that there is an active shooter in Lind Hall, and the building is being evacuated.
At 5:50 p.m., a student in the SURC gym contacts her father to let him know of the alert, and at 5:53 p.m. dispatchers received a call indicating “actual shots heard” in the SURC gym. Law enforcement continue to search Lind and branch off to the gym, but they find no evidence of an active shooter.
Between 6 and 6:30 p.m., dispatchers received two more reports of shots fired – one at the Languages and Literature Building and another at Nicholson Pavilion, where an officer was conducting a self-defense course.
For the next hour, officers cleared every building where shots were reported and found nothing. “For three terrifying hours we did not know if those reports were valid,” the university said in a statement. “We know more about how those rumors started and how they spread.”
CWU police gave the “all clear” at 7:27 p.m.
The following is a timeline of events from what led to the situation to the time the “all clear” was given:
4:13 PM – Ellensburg Police make CWU Police aware of a student who is upset and making threatening statements.
4:38 PM – After investigating the information from Ellensburg Police, CWU Police contact the CWU Case Management Services Office in Bouillon to make them aware of the student’s comment and to request that they take the precaution of locking their doors. The conversation is overheard by a student, who then tells staff in Lind Hall that he heard that there was a threat of an active shooter on campus.
5:15 PM – The “active shooter” information triggers ROTC protocol, and the building begins to be evacuated, including first-floor students and employees. Individuals begin to warn acquaintances in other buildings that there is an “active shooter” on campus.
5:23 PM – A student in Farrell Hall contacts 911 to confirm there is an actual active shooter on campus. The dispatcher advises there are no reports of an active shooter, and asks if the student is reporting one. The student advises KittCom he heard that there was an active shooter and that Lind Hall is being evacuated. Based on the student’s comment, at 5:25, 911 sends out a county-wide emergency notification that there is an active shooter in Lind Hall, and the building is being evacuated.
5:25 PM – CWU Chief of Police Jason Berthon-Koch and Officer Murray Wells are standing 50 yards from Lind when the emergency call comes and run into Lind, which the rumor has already emptied. CWU sets up a formal emergency command center as five local law-enforcement agencies and CWU Police respond. Police begin a door-to-door search of Lind.
5:35 PM – The CWU Alert! System notifies employees and students in Ellensburg of the threat via text, email, and voicemail.
5:50 PM – A student in the SURC gym contacts her father to let him know of the Alert. At 5:53 KittCom receives a call indicating “actual shots heard” in SURC gym. Police continue search of Lind. Law enforcement converges on the SURC, finding no evidence of active shooter or assault, and begin to clear the building.
6:02 PM – KittCom receives a report of shots fired in the Languages and Literature Building. Officers rush to the building and find no evidence of a shooter or any assault, but begin clearing the building.
6:27 PM – KittCom reports shots fired at Nicholson Pavilion, where an officer had been conducting a self-defense course. The officer confirmed no shots fired. For the next hour, officers clear every building where shots were reported, finding nothing.
7:27 PM – All clear is announced, indicating everyone is safe to return to usual activities.