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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

Gun scare prompts TUPD investigation Thursday afternoon

The Tufts University Police Department offices are pictured on Jan. 23.

Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) investigated a report of a person walking through campus carrying a handgun near Richardson House on Professors Row Thursday afternoon.

According to an email TUPD sent to the Tufts community at 10 p.m. on Thursday, TUPD identified the person and determined they were not carrying a weapon of any sort.

The incident was reported to TUPD shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. According to Deputy Chief Mark Keith, TUPD spent about 45 minutes sweeping the area of the report, including inside buildings, after the call was received.

An email sent by TUPD shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, about two and a half hours after the report was initially received, informed community members of the report and the ongoing investigation. The email urged community members to call TUPD with any information and noted that TUPD had not confirmed at the time whether the person in question was, in fact, carrying a weapon.

“We were receiving phone calls and we understood that people were hearing about [the incident] one way or another and we [decided to] put something out,” TUPD Deputy Chief Linda O’Brien said.

Keith indicated that he was unsure how information of the incident had spread. Director of Public and Environmental Safety Kevin Maguire told the Daily in an email that rumors of the incident had spread on social media, characterizing these rumors as “inaccurate.”

“When we learned of these posts, we moved as quickly as possible to dispel the misinformation and communicate accurately with the community,” Maguire said.

Maguire also stressed that timeliness is a major concern.

"We strive to be as timely as possible with messaging related to these types of events so that our community is informed," he said. "I want to reiterate that if we had had reason to believe that there was a true emergency on or near our campus, the notification would have been immediate."

Keith said that a person of interest was identified by the reporting party in security footage from external cameras at the Mayer Campus Center, and that this individual was questioned by TUPD around 8 p.m. on Thursday night.

The person of interest was determined to have been the same person seen by the reporting party. It was further confirmed that they had not been carrying a weapon at the time, nor did they own a gun.

In response to the incident, a production Thursday evening of the musical "Assassins" by Torn Ticket II requested a security detail of one TUPD officer, according to Sergeant Christopher McGee.

Celia Gittleman, production manager of Torn Ticket II, said they requested the security detail in response to the sighting.

“This request was made after we found out about the incident on campus … [The incident] had nothing to do with our production or anyone working on our production, but to be overly safe, we asked for the detail. There was no detail present at either performance on Saturday,” she said in an email to the Daily.

Maguire emphasized that counseling services were available at all times for students through Tufts Counseling and Mental Health Service, or after hours by calling the TUPD non-emergency number. Counseling services for Tufts employees are available through the Employee Assistance Program.

TUPD sent a final email to the Tufts community at 10:00 p.m.

“TUPD was able to identify the individual who was sighted on Professors Row and was able to clear him of any suspicion of carrying a firearm,” the email read.

According to TUPD Lieutenant Joseph Tilton, the object that the initial reporter saw was not the butt of a gun.

“We think it was a cellphone,” he said.