Update (May 8): Jason Schiffer, assistant vice president of campus safety and chief of Lehigh police, said the active shooter threat incident was confirmed to be a hoax in a campus-wide email titled “Follow-up From False Active Shooter Incident.”
He said Lehigh police is working in conjunction with Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI to identify and locate the person responsible for the false reporting.
According to the email, Northampton County 911 non-emergency received a call stating there was an active shooter at “the main building” at East Packer and Webster.
Within a minute, Lehigh and Bethlehem police responded to the area of East Packer Avenue and Webster Street. Lehigh police sent the run-hide-fight Hawkwatch Alert shortly after, and then followed with the shelter-in-place Hawkwatch Alert after they indicated the threats may not be credible.
Police continued to investigate the area, sending the third Hawkwatch Alert which told the campus community to continue to shelter in place. After completing walking checks of the surrounding area, they stated that no threat was found in a fourth Hawkwatch Alert, and provided the all-clear, determining the call a hoax, in a the final Hawkwatch Alert. Lehigh police added additional patrols on campus throughout the night.
“Yesterday’s events were traumatizing for our community, and particularly for our students, some who had to be evacuated from buildings as they were studying for final exams,” Schiffer said in the email. “In addition to the disruption, it caused real fear and anxiety. We acknowledge that students and other campus members are experiencing a range of emotions because of news of recent shootings elsewhere in the country.”
He provided resources for campus community members who may be experiencing distress from the incident and encourages community members to download the Hawkwatch App to receive emergency alerts and contact Campus Safety and Lehigh police.
Community members are encouraged to report safety concerns to Lehigh police at 610-758-4200. Lehigh emergency services can be found here.
Update (10:51 p.m.): Lehigh and Bethlehem Police have completed their investigation of an active shooter threat. The latest (fifth) Hawkwatch alert states that the threat was a hoax.
“Lehigh and Bethlehem police have completed their investigation and it is safe to return to normal activity,” the alert reads.
Update (10:40 p.m.): No credible threats have been found at the reported locations or via cameras in the area. Lehigh police continue to investigate, though the threats do not appear to be credible. The fourth Hawkwatch alert advises individuals not to spread misinformation on social media to keep others calm.
“NO threat can be found / NO danger confirmed,” the alert reads.
Original story: An active shooter was reported in the area of West Packer and Webster streets in a campus-wide Hawkwatch alert on the evening of May 7. Individuals in the Lehigh community were advised to Run-Hide-Fight as necessary.
No active shooter threat is detected at this time, according to a Hawkwatch alert sent minutes later, though Lehigh police are advising individuals to shelter in place until further notice.
Lehigh police sent another updated Hawkwatch alert that read they are investigating reports of an active shooter, which came from outside the Lehigh community to the Northampton County 911 center. According to the alert, the reports do not appear to be credible, but a cautionary shelter-in-place is still advised.
Run-Hide-Fight is the suggested response if the detected threat is confirmed to be an active shooter situation.
Individuals on and around West Packer and Webster streets would be advised to try to flee if possible by making an escape plan, leaving personal belongings behind, keeping hands visible, leaving even if others don’t agree, and helping others escape if possible.
If removing oneself from the area is not possible, people are advised to hide. This means remaining outside the shooter’s view, blocking and locking entrances and exits, and remaining as silent as possible.
As a last resort, only when in imminent danger, fighting has been deemed necessary. This includes attempting to incapacitate the shooter, acting with as much physical aggression as possible, and throwing available items at the shooter or improvising weapons.
The FBI published a booklet that also outlines suggested courses of action in an active shooter situation, which can be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.
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