A student carrying a hot glue gun for an art project triggered a four-hour lockdown Monday evening at Colgate University in New York.
The lockdown was initiated after witnesses reported seeing a person carrying what was thought to be a weapon into the O’Connor Campus Center about 8 p.m., the university said in a press release. An official tweet said an “armed person” was on campus and told students to “find a safe space and remain indoors.”
“After thorough investigation, and with the assistance of the person in question, law enforcement identified the individual as a student who was using a glue gun for an art project, confirmed the misunderstanding, and released the campus from lockdown,” the university said.
The state police gave the all-clear by 11:40 p.m., the Observer-Dispatch reported.
Students were encouraged to gather at the university chapel at 12:30 a.m. in order to process the “upsetting evening,” the press release said.
The university’s handling of the incident sparked concerns of racial profiling among some students, considering that the man with the glue gun is black, according to the Huffington Post.
Student Tolu Emokpae claimed on Facebook that the lockdown was “one large reaction to a report based purely off racial profiling,” the Post reported.
Miranda Robles called the lockdown “extremely problematic and absurd.”
“Why make such a big claim for there to be no proof? Could have gotten the student in serious trouble,” she wrote, according to the Post.
In a statement Tuesday, Colgate President Brian W. Casey said racial bias played a role in the initial reporting of an allegedly armed man on campus, which was mistakenly described as an “active shooter” situation by campus security officials.
“It is important that we understand the role that implicit racial bias had in the initial reporting of and responses to the events of last night,” he said. “I want to make sure we speak with those who made and received the initial report to understand the role this played.
“More egregiously, perhaps, was the effect profiling had on the response of safety officers and other University offices to these events. In addition, communication and enforcement steps were taken that, I believe, confused and harmed this campus and our students,” he said. “As a first step, I have asked Campus Safety Director Bill Ferguson, who was leading university security efforts last night, to take an administrative leave from his position effective immediately while we conduct a review of the events of last night.”
The lockdown came the same day that 21-year-old Kendrex J. White was arrested and accused of killing one student and wounding three others with a hunting knife at the University of Texas campus in Austin.