ECU lockdown triggered by umbrella

Published 12:36 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

RALEIGH — A three-hour lockdown at East Carolina University was triggered when a man carrying a golf umbrella was mistaken for a gunman.

Greenville Police spokesman Sgt. Carlton Williams said emergency dispatchers received two 911 calls about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday reporting a man was walking along a street near campus carrying an assault rifle

Within minutes, the campus alert system was activated. Police reviewed traffic camera footage and saw what appeared to be a man with a rifle sticking out of a backpack.

Heavily armed officers from at least four law enforcement agencies responded in force, sweeping campus buildings, searching buses and briefly surrounding a nearby house. A state helicopter hovered overhead.

ECU spokeswoman Mary Schulken said the response was justified even though it was based on a false report.