Police respond to Pitt campus for false reports of active shooter

PITTSBURGH — University of Pittsburgh Police and the FBI are investigating an active shooter hoax at the university’s Hillman Library late Monday night.

The first of three hoax calls were made to Pittsburgh Police at 11:10 p.m.

“There was the sound of either gunshots or simulated gunshots that that officer could hear over the phone,” Pitt Police Chief Jim Loftus said.

Five minutes later, police were at the library, evacuating hundreds of students and clearing rooms.

PHOTOS: Police respond to Pitt campus for reports of shooting, no evidence of active shooter

It was at that point a city officer fired shots to try and make entry on the ground floor. The door had been locked due to construction. Pittsburgh Police tell Channel 11 they are investigating those actions to see if they were in “alignment with policy and training.”

Once Hillman was cleared, more calls came from nearby Mervis Hall. Students said they heard footsteps in the hall that they did not believe were police.

Through all this, no campus-wide alert was sent. It took nearly 90 minutes from the time of the call to police to the time the first alert went out to students.

“My regret and my responsibility is that we didn’t get the ENS message out as quickly as I think we could have or should have and that rests with me,” Chief Loftus said.

The university released a response about the incident, stating that an officer discharged his weapon, causing “understandable alarm” and that their Emergency Notification System was both “delayed and flawed.” They said they are reviewing the system and retraining their communicators. The entire response can be found here.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation but would not comment on it or whether there are any potential connections to the hoax calls that happened at area schools in March.

Students react after active shooter hoax

Not knowing what was happening, or where the shots were coming from, became a mad dash for students to get out of the building.

Some even took a leap to safety.

“All of a sudden, people came flying out, jumping over the side here, it was just complete chaos,” said Ethan Pinnix, who is in his first year at Pitt.

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