A caller who claimed to have placed two bombs at the College of Charleston also threatened to gun down students at the campus’ New School of Education, according to an incident report.
The report, which was made public by the school three days after the bomb threat, offered some insight into why law enforcement swarmed the campus with military-style rifles drawn.
Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis acknowledged earlier this week that the call first came across as a bomb threat but said officers didn’t “know how the situation might change, so you have to be prepared in case the situation changes.”
At no point prior to the report’s release did law enforcement or the college publicly state that the situation might have involved an active shooter.
The college’s Police Chief Robert Reese released a statement Friday afternoon saying law enforcement agencies on the ground made a professional judgment to not add “possible shooter” to notifications released on campus.
“That information may have created unnecessary panic and hindered the work of the emergency professionals on the scene,” the statement said. “Time and facts proved our judgment correct.”
The confusion was made worse after the school sent out a Cougar Alert saying a bomb had been found on campus. A second electronic alert went out a few minutes later, saying there was no bomb, only a bomb threat, and students and staff should follow police orders.
A caller claimed that he placed two bombs at the school’s Beatty and Tate centers on Liberty Street around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, according to the incident report.
Officers found three unattended backpacks while evacuating the centers, but an X-ray scan found no explosive materials, the report said.
The caller contacted authorities for a second time claiming that he had a gun and intended to use it against people inside the New School of Education, authorities said.
Law enforcement officers surrounded the targeted areas. Authorities, however, never located a gunman or anyone else who appeared suspicious on campus, the report said.
The caller has not been identified and an arrest has not been made. The situation remains under investigation.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.