University administrators and police have still not clarified if there ever was a gunman, or if the entire incident was a hoax or a misunderstanding—though they have indicated that there is currently “no threat” to UB students.
Shortly after 4 p.m., a witness allegedly saw a man with a gun enter the library. The University Police Department sent an alert through its emergency text messaging system to evacuate the library at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday evening. Amherst and Buffalo police then assisted the UPD as it searched the building for the suspect. Many officers were armed with high-power assault rifles, others were stationed further away with sniper rifles. A video alleged to show police performing the search appeared on Twitter shortly after.
Some witnesses reported that the gunman was a Caucasian male and approximately 5-foot-9. Another reported that he was hiding a rifle under a navy peacoat. No official sources could substantiate these reports, though the university did report on the alleged gunman’s appearance. The Buffalo News reports that a UPD officer watching a surveillance feed saw the man enter the building with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
Rumors spread like wildfire across social networking sights like Twitter and Facebook, where student reports varied. Some said that the man had barricaded himself on the second floor with several hostages. Others reported that Capen Hall and Clemens Hall had also been evacuated. One Channel 4 news host surmised that the shooter had taken to the underground tunnels at UB.
The university has come under some scrutiny for its actions during the incident. The Office of the President did not issue an e-mail to students until 5:16 p.m., over an hour after the gunman was first alleged to have been spotted. At 5:45, the school sent an e-mail canceling North Campus classes for the rest of the day. They utilized the emergency messaging system again at 8:45 to announce that no gunman had been found, but Lockwood would remain closed for the rest of the night.
Classes will continue on Wednesday as scheduled.