Gun Alert Prompts UMass Campus Lockdown
Issue   |   Wed, 02/24/2016 - 01:03

The University of Massachusetts Amherst went into lockdown after a reported sighting of a handgun on Thursday, Feb 18. All students, staff and faculty at UMass were instructed to keep indoors for the duration of the incident.

Around 5:17 p.m. Thursday, two men assaulted a student near Pierpont Hall, in UMass’s southwest residential area. The student suffered a minor head wound and was later hospitalized.

The two suspects were found to be unaffiliated with the university. A warrant for the arrest of one suspect, William McKeown, was issued Friday morning. That afternoon, McKeown turned himself in to the police station in Framingham, Massachusetts. He faces charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and armed robbery.

During the incident, Amherst College police maintained communications with both the UMass and Amherst town police departments and stationed uniformed officers around campus.

“The Amherst College Alert was sent out in recognition that our students and faculty travel extensively among the Five Colleges,” said John Carter, the college’s chief of public safety. “In consultation with the Chief of Campus Operations and the Chief Communications Officer, we felt the warnings from UMass police warranted advising our students, staff and faculty to stay away from the UMass campus.”

According to Carter, there were no indications that Amherst College was under threat and the suspects did not show signs of heading toward the college.

There have been no gun-related incidents at the college in at least the past ten years.

“The Amherst College Police Department has confiscated prohibited weapons on campus over the years, but none that were used in a scenario that required an alert,” Carter said.

Carter encouraged members of the community to sign up for the AC Alert system and to have a plan ready for similar lockdown situations.