Cyclist spurred gun scare
Betty Ann Adam
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
A bicycle seat and post that were mistaken for a firearm caused the alarm at the University of Saskatchewan campus Friday, Saskatoon police have confirmed.
Just days after a deadly shooting at a Virginia university, three U of S buildings were locked down, people were evacuated or secured in classrooms, and police swarmed the campus in search of a man in camouflage pants, who had been seen walking across the Bowl with what appeared to be a gun between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Saskatoon resident Bruce Munroe saw the same man as Munroe waited outside the Administration building for his wife to finish her work day.
"I saw a guy walking from the (Physical Activity Complex) PAC building, cross in front of the doors of the Administration building, headed toward the Bowl. He was the same description as the story in the paper Saturday, camouflage pants, young guy," Munroe said Monday.
"My first impression when I saw him was he was carrying a gun. It freaked me out. So as he went by my first thought was, 'Maybe I should duck down.' Then I realized, once he went by, that what he was carrying was a bicycle seat with a long stem and painted black. It would give you the first impression what he had was a gun."
The next day, when Munroe read the description in the newspaper of the alleged gunman and the time and place of the sighting, he realized it was the same person he had seen. Munroe notified the police.
The officer who took a statement told Munroe it did seem odd that only one person had called in the sighting, in this age of cellphones. There would likely have been more calls if someone had actually been moving about the campus with a weapon, he said.
"The public have a heightened awareness of suspicious activity in light of what happened in Virginia last week and previously on campuses in Canada and the States," said Alyson Edwards, a spokesperson for the Saskatoon Police Service.
Police were aware they might receive more calls than usual after the Virginia shooting and were prepared to handle them according to the usual procedures, she said.
Edwards said the person who was carrying the bike seat may not be aware that he is the person who caused the excitement, but police would appreciate a call if and when he does become aware.
On April 16, a man shot 32 people to death at Virginia Tech before killing himself.