A campus-wide alert warning those in Tower 1 to “SHELTER IN PLACE!” around 11:35 p.m. on Friday drew criticism on social media and prompted an apology from UCF Police.

“We understand that words matter. In a situation with heightened stress, we made a poor choice in our initial language,” UCFPD tweeted. “We know this caused undue panic and stress by those we serve and protect, and for that we apologize.”


A second alert from campus police  arrived nearly an hour after the first at roughly 12:30 a.m., advising students that police received a call about a “person with a firearm in waistband entering Tower 1.” The alert added that authorities are “working to make contact” and advised the community to avoid the area.

A third alert from campus police was received by the community around 1:23 a.m. It announced that the situation no longer posed a threat to campus but was still “active and ongoing.”

It took another 20 minutes, 1:46 a.m., before the UCF community would learn that law enforcement discovered that the ‘person with a firearm’ was in possession of a BB gun.

Critics of UCFPD’s alerts point at the roughly two-hour span between the university’s first alert and the third, when police declared that the ‘person with a firearm’ no longer posed a threat. During this time, the university offered little details while false information began to flood onto social media.

 

UCF Police Chief Carl Metzger apologized for the ‘inconvenience’ while speaking with Knight News early Saturday morning.

“The general alert that was sent out was non-specific and did mislead people to think that perhaps the incident was more serious than it really was,” Chief Metzger told Knight News.

The 29-year law enforcement veteran described it as an area where the department will need to improve and added the incident will serve as a lesson they can learn from.

Many rushed to support UCF Police on Twitter and the actions the department took that night. They highlight that the department did the best they could with the information they had available and how they are using the incident as a learning experience.

https://twitter.com/chandlertorress/status/1155023271257096192

 

According to Metzger, the student in possession of the BB gun was not arrested but will face student conduct procedures.