Australian University, High School on Lockdown After Threatening Phone Calls

September 17, 2019 Updated: September 21, 2019

UPDATE: NSW Police have said that there is no current threat at the Southern Cross University campus and surrounding areas in Lismore. Acting Assistant Commissioner Detective Wayne Humphrey told a press conference at 4:40 p.m. that threats in relation to the use of firearms had been made to the police by an unidentified male, which triggered a major police response. He added that no firearms have been found on campus and the lockdown has been lifted.

 

A university and high school in northern New South Wales were placed in emergency lockdown after they received threatening phone calls around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, police said.

“There have been no reports of injury or shots fired,” police said in a statement.

A police operation is underway and the public is told to avoid the area.

There had been earlier rumours that perhaps there was a shooter on the campus, however police said the reports were unfounded, according to news.com.au.

On Facebook, Southern Cross University warned that its Lismore campus was in “emergency lockdown.”

“Police are currently on site and all students and staff are advised to remain inside until given the all clear,” it said. “Anyone planning to visit the campus at present should postpone.”

The Rivers Secondary College Lismore High Campus also posted that it was in lockdown, citing “an unfolding matter at the university.”

In a post to Facebook, the high school wrote:  “Students are safe and the school will remain in lockdown until advised by police. Please do not attempt to collect your child. We will update you when possible.”

Around 3:05 p.m., a woman at the university’s plaza posted an update to local news outlet The Northern Star’s Facebook page, saying that she saw “five policemen with machine guns just came in moving towards the library region, pointing their guns and using hand signals.”

The woman, Louise Hardman, said what she saw was “freaky.”

Another woman at a childcare facility next to the university told 2GB’s Ben Fordham that she heard a loud bang coming from the campus.

At 4:03 p.m. local time, the university put out an update via its Twitter account saying that the campus in Lismore was “still in lock-down” and that they would provide further updates soon.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Detective Wayne Humphrey said in a press conference at 4:40 p.m. that following a major police response, he was “comfortable there is no current threat” at the campus.

Casino police station received a phone call shortly after 1 p.m. during which “a male made a number of threats … in relation to the use of firearms.”

“As a result of those calls, a major police response was initiated in conjunction with the university’s security plan.”

Humphrey said that the police response was “commensurate to that risk,” which was “serious enough that armed police went to that location.”

The threat made in a phone call was “long enough that a police negotiator was able to converse with the male for some period,” Humphrey said, adding that the person has not yet been identified.

No firearms were found on campus and the lockdown was lifted.

Around 200 staff and students were directly affected by the lockdown that was announced for a portion of the university campus.

The incident will now be subject to an investigation, Humphrey said.

“Inquires will determine whether or not this was, in fact, an elaborate hoax or whether these was some substance to what occurred.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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