Rumors of a shooter in the Mass Media building on Wednesday proved to be false.
Eyewitnesses place a young man at the scene who was described to be around 5-feet-9-inches tall, stocky and traditional college student-aged.
He wandered around the building asking for money, claiming to be armed. It was discovered that the man was not armed and the situation was deemed non-threatening.
According to witnesses, once the man was inside he approached students asking them for money while claiming to be an aspiring rapper and actor. He then asked several female students if they could direct him to the person in charge of putting people on television.
Brejae Wylie, junior mass media major, was a witness to the event.
“He continued to ask all the women coming out of their classes and one of them proceeded to walk with him outside,” she said. “When we stopped her from leaving, he came back as well and claimed to be armed. He said he would not use the gun and that he would exit the building.”
Wylie said that after the man left, the group of women alerted the professors who then locked all the Mass Media Building’s doors. According to Wylie, two mass media professors stepped outside and asked the man to vacate the premises.
Michael Taylor, mass media instructor, was in his office when the man entered the building.
“Basically we had a young man who wandered into the building,” he said. “Anyone could tell he was not a student. He was disturbing some of our students. When he wandered back out, the other professor and I made sure the door was secure so we wouldn’t have to worry about him coming back in.”
This was not the end of the ordeal, however.
“He did come back a little later at which point I went ahead and went outside to inform him that he needed to leave the building to stop harassing our students,” Taylor said. “I noticed out of the corner of my eye he kept talking to kids. I said he needed to leave and stop messing with the students. I then saw campus cops were pulling up, so I could back away.”
According to Taylor, the man seemed to be acting out of delusion rather than malice.
“When I talked to him, he was obviously disturbed and not all the way coherent, and at one point threatened to blow up the building, claiming to have a grenade in his hip pocket. Irony being that he said here’s the pen and pointed to his ear. I think he basically was dealing with a situation of psychological difficulty or may have been drug induced. He was obviously not in his right mind. Truthfully more of a nuisance than a physical threat. But you never know. It was just a simple matter where we got him away from the building. When the police pulled up, I basically backed off.”
Taylor did note, however, that while the man appeared disturbed, his eyes were clear and did not appear dilated.
According to Thressea Boyd, assistant to the president for communications, “[…] The VSU Police responded and the man did not have any weapon and did not appear to be an immediate threat. While being questioned it became apparent that he needed some medical attention; VSU Police called for an ambulance which arrived and transported the man to SGMC. A Criminal Trespass Warning for VSU was issued to the man.”
The entire incident unfolded in less than 10 minutes, according to Taylor, who also praised VSUPD for their handling of the situation and quick response time.