Monday morning while heavily armed police officers scoured the campus for a possible gunman, University of Calgary students, unaware and uninformed of the incident, went about the business of attending Monday classes.
That's partly because it was a false alarm, and partly because an emergency app specifically designed to alert students to such situations was never deployed.
The incident in question took place early Monday.
"Shortly after 8:30 this morning, police received a call of a male walking around the university campus holding, what was called in as a shotgun or an assault rifle," said Acting Staff Sergeant Travis Juska of the CPS.
Despite the heavy police presence, with many officers carrying automatic weapons, students on campus were never alerted that anything was out of the ordinary.
“One of my friends sent in a group chat, a picture from another friend who said there was police all over the place and none of us personally got any sort of notification or response and we had to find out from our friends what was going on," said U of C student Logan Boras.
“”I think if there is any sort of police activity or weapons or even potentially weapons or any kind of danger, we should be informed.”
The university’s website describes its UC Emergency Mobile App as “the UC Emergency Mobile app is an important tool to help keep you safe in the event of an emergency affecting the University of Calgary by sending you timely notifications that can save lives and prevent injuries.
"The app," it continued, "is part of the university’s emergency management plan and a big part of creating a safe and healthy living and learning environment for everyone on campus.”
Engineering student Caroline Dawoud has the app installed on her phone, but it never sent any alerts while police officers searched campus.
“I wasn’t sure what was going on. It was weird. We got no info,” Dawoud said “I have had the app downloaded since i started my first year last year, and it’s never been used except to test it out .
"I would have hoped," Dawoud added, "that it would have been used today.”
The incident ended peacefully after officers discovered a replica gun made from papier-mâché inside MacEwan Hall on the university campus.
The replica appeared realistic."Having seen the photo myself I can attest that there is quite a likeness to it," said Juska.
"It's easy to see how members of the public could have seen that and believed it was a legitimate threat." he added.
The replica gun was destined to be a part of a display at by the Russian Speaking Student Association, as part of the Students’ Union U of C Clubs Week being held inside MacEwan Hall.
The student who brought the replica gun to the display wouldn’t give his name but told CTV he was “sorry he’d scared anyone, ” adding that he was also sorry he’d caused such a large police presence to be drawn to campus.
Police say no charges were laid in Monday’s incident, but Juska hopes the event serves as a reminder to Calgarians, saying “It is beneficial for everyone to have an objective look when they're bringing something like this with them to campus or into a public space or anywhere that a member of the public might construe this as a legitimate threat."
Dru Marshall, Provost and Vice President (Academic) at the University of Calgary, released a statement on Monday afternoon to CTV News about the incident saying…
This morning Campus Security received two unsubstantiated reports of a suspicious individual on campus. Calgary Police Service arrived on campus within minutes, working with Campus Security to investigate and verify the reports. The large police presence on campus generated attention on social media and was picked up by some new outlets, which erroneously reported that the campus was in “lockdown.” Shortly thereafter, the individual was identified and located by Campus Security and Calgary Police Service and was deemed not to be a threat.
Both Campus Security and Calgary Police Service sent out notifications regarding the incident through social media. Unfortunately, there were some technical issues in sending out notifications using some of our UCalgary communication channels, which we are investigating to correct immediately.
The University of Calgary takes the importance of emergency communications very seriously, and we apologize for the lack of communication this morning due to technical difficulties.
The safety and security of all of our campuses is of utmost importance to us.