Police determined the gun that triggered lockdown status for the College of Southern Maryland’s La Plata campus for 35 minutes Monday evening was an Airsoft pellet gun.
Based on preliminary information from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, shortly before 8 p.m. Nov. 18, police got a call from CSM’s campus security about a man in the school’s lounge who appeared to have a gun.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Diane Richardson said a campus security officer observed a group of people in the lounge while monitoring a surveillance camera, when he thought he saw a handgun.
Richardson said officers arrived at the campus within minutes of the call and detained a man who was running from the lounge area.
When officers viewed the surveillance footage, the video showed five people, male and female, and one man pointing what appeared to be a gun at the others. Based on the footage, Richardson said no one appeared scared.
Police determined from the man they stopped that he was not the person who had the gun, and evidence recovered on the scene indicated police were looking for an Airsoft gun. Officers lifted the lockdown when it was determined there was no further threat. The lockdown was in place from the time police arrived until there was no longer a threat.
Police continue to investigate to identify individuals connected to the incident. By Tuesday afternoon, two 19 year-old CSM students were identified as part of the group from the lounge area. Police still are looking to identify the person who had the pellet gun.
The College of Southern Maryland issued a release stating that the college is cooperating with the police investigation.
“We are serious about the safety of our campuses and will not tolerate inappropriate behaviors that could put anyone on our campuses at risk,” said college President Brad Gottfried in the release. “This includes zero tolerance with regard to weapons or anything that would resemble such a weapon.”
Gottfried said he is grateful for the quick response of school staff and law enforcement.
He said staff have trained for emergencies such as the one Monday night and as a result were able to respond appropriately.
He said the college works closely with all members of the community to “improve our preparedness and readiness for any and all incidents and emergencies.”
After Monday night’s incident, the college updated the public on some of its preparedness efforts.
The school launched a mobile device-ready page on its website called CSM Ready for emergencies. The page is at http://ready.csmd.edu and is a one-stop location for emergency information, according to the release.
The page includes information about the college’s operating plans for managing emergencies as well as plans for specific responses to emergencies by members of the college community.
At the CSM Ready site, people can sign up for emergency notifications, report behavioral incidents and request accommodations during emergencies.
“It is critical with recent events across our nation that we all become partners to ensure safety in our communities. On our campuses we urge students, employees and visitors to report immediately anything suspicious or activities they consider as a threat. This can be reported directly to any public safety officer or by calling emergency 911,” said Donald Frick, the college’s executive director of public safety and preparedness, in the release.
Additional security measures coming in January include bag checks at graduations and other large-scale events.