Police respond to false alarm at Oak Hall

UConn police and fire crews shut down Oak Hall at approximately 4:15 p.m. on March 29, 2017. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

UConn police and fire crews shut down Oak Hall at approximately 4:15 p.m. on March 29, 2017. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

Update 9:03 p.m. March 29, 2017

University of Connecticut police responded to what amounted to a false alarm at Oak Hall on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. By 4:45 p.m. police confirmed there was no threat, university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said

“Police got a call at 4:15 p.m. from a person in the building who was concerned about a conversation they had overheard. It was not a threat but a misunderstanding,” Reitz said. “Police asked people to stay in place to do a walkthrough without anything being discovered.”

Police were still sweeping the building as of 5:10 p.m.

“They’re confident there are no safety issues there, but need time to assess final steps,” Reitz said.

At least eight UCPD vehicles responded to the call, in addition to other emergency service vehicles. Police officers blocked every entrance Oak Hall for a brief period between 4:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.

A helicopter flew over UConn at the time that the incident occurred, but it was unrelated, Reitz said.

“We just got a weird phone call,” one officer on the scene said.

Students in classrooms were told to “shelter in place,” and students in the hallways were told to move into the nearest classroom, according to updates from the university alert system.

“We got a notification that there was a police investigation,” second-semester undeclared student Eric Kaufman, who was in class at Oak, said. “The police came in and we were under lockdown. I felt pretty good about it, they came in, they locked down the place, not much happened. We mostly studied.”

“Right after all the students left my class, two cops came in and asked me to shelter in place in our classroom,” UConn journalism professor Kate Farrish said.

Classes scheduled before 6 p.m. in Oak Hall were canceled. The building returned to its normal operations after 6 p.m., according to the university alert system. The incident did not impact other buildings or class schedules, Reitz said in an email.

“People were great and very cooperative,” Reitz said. “This is something no one wants to experience, but everyone was very cooperative and supportive of what the police were doing.”

As of around 6:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Reitz said that information regarding the content of the conversation that prompted the concerned caller to contact UConn Police remains pending.

It cannot yet be confirmed whether the concerned caller was a student, faculty member, visitor or other person, Reitz said.

“I don’t want to disclose it at this point because the police will be looking at it in their review,” Reitz said. “It does look like it was a misunderstanding, but (the police) still need to determine that.”

Update 5:39 p.m. March 29, 2017

University of Connecticut police responded to a false alarm at Oak Hall at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, UConn’s spokesperson said. By 4:45 p.m. police confirmed there was no threat.

“Police got a call at 4:15 p.m. from a person in the building who was concerned about a conversation they had overheard. It was not a threat but a misunderstanding,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “Police asked people to stay in place to do a walkthrough without anything being discovered.”

Police were still sweeping the building as of 5:10 p.m.

“They’re confident there are no safety issues there, but need time to assess final steps,” Reitz said.

At least eight UCPD vehicles responded to the call. Police officers blocked every entrance Oak Hall for a brief period between 4:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.

A helicopter flew over UConn at the time that the incident occurred, but it was unrelated, Reitz said.

“We just got a weird phone call,” one officer on the scene said.

Students in classrooms were told to stay in their classrooms and students in the halls were told to go into the nearest classroom.

“We got a notification that there was a police investigation,” said freshman Eric Kaufman, who was in class at Oak. “The police came in and we were under lockdown. I felt pretty good about it, they came in, they locked down the place, not much happened. We mostly studied.”

“Right after all the students left my class, two cops came in and asked me to shelter in place in our classroom,” journalism instructor Kate Farrish said.

Classes scheduled before 6 p.m. in Oak Hall have been canceled.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


Christopher McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.

Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.

Editor-in-chief Julia Werth and Staff Writer Anna Zarra Aldrich contributed reporting