Virginia Tech Lifts Security Alert Following Reports of Gunman on Campus

Virginia Tech, the site of a 2007 massacre in which 33 people were killed, reopened the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus following a lockdown after police searched for a gunman.

A lockdown alert had been issued after three youths reported seeing a man holding what appeared to be a gun at 9:09 a.m. local time. A person with a gun was later reported near the Dietrick Hall dining center, according to a subsequent alert issued at 9:37 a.m.

“Police have not received nor discovered additional information about a person possibly carrying a weapon beyond that reported this morning,” the college said on its website at 2:41 p.m. local time.

Law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Virginia State Police and several local police departments converged on the campus to search for a gunman, and President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation.

Officers will continue to patrol university buildings and survey the campus in marked and unmarked cars, campus police chief Wendell Flinchum said at a news conference.

“We will continue to have a large police presence on campus this evening,” Flinchum said.

People on campus had been advised to stay indoors when the lockdown began. A few thousand students were likely at the school at the time, Virginia Tech Associate Vice President Larry Hincker told reporters at an earlier news conference.

‘On Edge’

The university, formally known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has more than 30,000 full-time students.

Reports of a gunman on campus hit a nerve at the college, where in 2007 student Seung Hui Cho went on a two-hour rampage, killing 32 people before taking his own life.

“Everybody’s just on edge because it’s something that has happened here,” Carrie Chapon, 19, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, said in an interview before the alert was lifted. Her sister was a student at the time of 2007 shootings.

While police said the university could resume normal campus activity, they asked people “to remain vigilant” and report any suspicious activity, according to the school’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Wolfson in Boston at; Jeff Bliss in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at

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