A man has been taken into custody after students were threatened with a replica gun at the University of Exeter.
Armed police were called to the University’s Streatham campus around 11.30am. According to a statement released by the Devon and Cornwall police earlier today, armed officers were immediately sent to the scene and “were able to identify a specific a room in the Amory Building in which it was believed there was a small number of people.”
The statement continued: “In order to investigate and protect the public, students and staff, two firearms officers and a police dog rapidly entered the building.
“As they did so, a male came out of the room, identified himself, and was arrested without incident.”
initial examinations of the item suggested it was not a viable firearm
The officers recovered a bag that contained what appeared to be a metal handgun. While the investigation is ongoing, initial examinations of the item suggested it was not a viable firearm, but was either “a replica or blank-firing handgun. It was not loaded.”
Superintendent Matt Lawler, policing commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon, confirmed that a 25-year-old man, believed to be from Exeter, is being held at Heavitree Road. The suspect was due to be interviewed later today, 19 June. Officers remained on campus after the incident to make enquiries and take statements from witnesses.
“we saw nine police cars lined up outside Amory … we knew there had been armed police there, including those with riot shields and protective gear.”
Devon Live reported that Reed Hall, the Old Library, the Business School and the Innovation Centre were locked down in response. However, the statement issued by the university mentions the closure of just one building, without disclosing the building’s name.
One student said, “at about twenty-five past twelve, we tried to exit the [Business School] and were told we couldn’t. A university official came in and said that due to a major incident on campus the building was in lockdown and we couldn’t leave the building.”
Less than five minutes later, students were informed by another university official that the incident had been resolved and they were free to leave safely.
“When we went outside we saw nine police cars lined up outside Amory and loads of police milling around. One of the cars had police dogs inside – we knew there had been armed police there, including those with riot shields and protective gear.”
there was significant uncertainty during the brief lockdown
While students described staff responses as reassuring, there was also significant uncertainty around what the “major incident” was during the brief lockdown. Razz Magazine Co-President Katrina Bennett, who was also in the Business School for the Professional Pathways programme, said, “Everyone I was with was unaware of what had actually occurred until information was released by news sites.”
In an email sent to students at 4.30pm, University Registrar Mike Shore-Nye said: “The police have since reported that their initial examination of the item indicates that it was not a viable firearm. The incident was dealt with swiftly and effectively by the police and one individual is currently in custody.
“While we understand that any incident of this nature will be distressing, we would like take this opportunity to reassure you that the University has strict protocols in place to ensure the safety of all our campus users at all times.”
University Registrar: “the University has strict protocols in place to ensure the safety of all our campus users at all times.”
Shore-Nye advised students, “Your safety and wellbeing are our overriding priority. While instances of this nature are rare, the University has a wide-range of procedures in place to ensure that it can deal with whatever arises quickly, efficiently and above all safely.”
The University did not use their text alert system to contact all students and staff. According to the University’s Twitter account, this was because the “incident was contained and resolved so quickly, it wasn’t needed thankfully.”
Term three ended on Friday 14 June. However, postgraduate and international students were likely still present on campus when the incident happened due to differing timescales. The Civil Service Live conference was also taking place in the Forum, which was reportedly not in lockdown at any stage.
If any of the issues in the above story have affected you, you can contact the University’s Wellbeing Services here: www.exeter.ac.uk/wellbeing/contact/getintouch/.