University of Minnesota police asked students, faculty and staff to seek shelter at around 3:15 p.m. Monday after an armed man allegedly attempted to rob a student in Anderson Hall.
Police arrived at the scene a little after 3 p.m. Shortly after 4 p.m., a text alert said a search of the West Bank was complete and no shooting had occurred.
University police Chief Greg Hestness said the suspect approached a student studying on a stairwell in Anderson Hall, displayed a handgun and demanded her laptop.
Hestness said the suspect took the victim’s backpack, which was empty. The student screamed, and the man fled. The student wasn’t harmed, Hestness said.
The suspect was still at large Monday night and may have escaped through the University’s tunnel system, University Services spokesman Tim Busse said.
Hestness said the suspect description, sent via a text alert shortly after the notice to take shelter, was vague and “not too helpful.” Police received a number of calls about possible suspect sightings, he said.
Police also searched the area near Coffman Union on the University’s East Bank around 4 p.m., after receiving a call that the suspect could be there.
Security cameras caught a man University police believe to be the suspect, and they included a photo in a crime alert sent to faculty, staff and students Monday night.
Individualized studies sophomore Jack Swift, who works on Anderson Hall’s first floor, said he was in his office when he heard a scream, and he went to help the victim.
The University sent a text alert at 3:15 p.m. warning those on campus to seek shelter until further notice.
“He was in a University building, and he had a weapon, so we’re taking every precaution necessary,” Busse said.
Paula Pentel, program coordinator for the University’s Urban Studies department, said she arrived for her class on the first floor of Anderson Hall shortly before 4 p.m.
Only about five of her 50 students showed up for the class, and she said she hadn’t been notified to cancel classes.
Jesse Grindstaff, a Post-Secondary Enrollment Options student, said he ran from the East Bank to Anderson Hall to warn a friend there after receiving the first text alert.
Grindstaff said he thinks the text alert system is useful, but some students didn’t receive the messages.
“I think it’s a good thing that the University has that as a means of urgent communication,” he said.
Inside Anderson, people were ushered into classrooms, huddling away from windows and doors, he said.
“There was a lot of quietness, stillness in the air,” Grindstaff said.
Emma Nelson, Cody Nelson and Marion Renault contributed to this report.