BOZEMAN – A man is in custody after a scary day on campus at Montana State University.
MSU police say a threat from an employee who was scheduled to be fired that day threatened to kill not only himself but others too.
Importantly, police say everyone is now safe and no one is in any further danger.
MSU police chief Frank Parrish says the incident started with a social media post from a current employee on campus.
Those walking to and from buildings on campus were told to immediately get out of the open along with several others, get off campus, as the university was in shelter in place mode.
In the end, about two hours after it started, police found the man in Norm Asbjornson Hall.
“MSU Police received a report of a threat made by an MSU employee,” Parrish says.
After that, officers moved quickly, locking all buildings, and immediately started looking for the man behind it.
“The suspect stated to a family member that he was ready to end it all and he’s all of his guns loaded and he was ready to take out anyone with him,” Parrish says.
Agencies from across the area rallied, working through the county 911 center and the emergency alert system.
The suspect was nowhere to be found but just minutes before had been at the campus police station.
“In this particular case, we didn’t know where the suspect was,” Parrish says. “We knew he was on campus because he came by about 20 minutes prior to that and bought a parking pass. He was also scheduled for a 2 o’clock meeting, a dismissal hearing. He was an employee going through the disciplinary process.”
And, according to Parrish, the man was possibly armed with several guns.
“We were told that the suspect had two shotguns and a rifle we have not recovered at this time but that’s all the information that we have on that,” Parrish says. “He was not armed at the time that he was taken into custody.”
Police worked quickly, using the county emergency alert system and text alerts out to students and staff, putting the university into shelter-in-place mode, something both campus officials and all police agencies involved say might have changed how this played out.
“The joint operation of county 911 center allowed us to dispatch units from all over the county instantaneously, something that, in the past, we didn’t have the capability of doing,” Parrish says.
“The emergency alert system is absolutely vital,” says Michael Becker, MSU spokesperson and director of the campus news service. “I mean, in a situation where we’ve got something fast moving happening, we’d want to get that information out quickly.”
And with that, the shelter-in-place was lifted.
No one was hurt and the man was sent to the Gallatin County Detention Center.
Without the help of technology and teamwork, Parrish says this could have ended much differently.
“They followed the procedures that we trained them in doing, they listened to the emergency alert,” Parrish says. “I’d also like to really thank leadership here at MSU because without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to put these security measures in place that I believe makes MSU very safe.”
The campus police chief says it is too soon to say what the man will be charged with.
Investigators are still looking for the weapons that they were able to confirm that he had access to.
Police also impounded his car, which was found parked in a campus parking lot nearby.
In all, Gallatin County sheriff’s deputies, Bozeman city police, Montana Highway Patrol and Gallatin County Emergency Management were also there working to end this situation quickly and peacefully.
Story by Cody Boyer, MTN News