University of Wisconsin-La Crosse police arrested a part-time student who brought a gun on campus Thursday morning, according to Chancellor Joe Gow.
"It all happened very quickly," Gow said. "I was notified about it and the next thing you know, we apprehended this person."
Gow said the incident happened around 9:30 a.m. Campus police told Gow a part-time student "in a manic state" was saying things that didn't make much sense. The student went to the police station and said some "concerning" things and mentioned Chancellor Gow and another person in the university's Student Life Office and said they "better stop calling my parents." Police told Gow the student then left campus police and went to his apartment. Police followed the person to his apartment, Gow said.
"He left and somehow got back on campus and we had a report that a person had a gun case," Gow said. The student was seen carrying a hunting shotgun on campus. He went into Cowley Hall and went into a classroom. At this point, campus police do not know why he entered the specific classroom.
"You never know if that student is armed (or) what the intention is, and there's not much communication coming from this individual," said UW-L Police Chief Scott Rohde. "So the concern was that there could be some serious implications. So it was treated as though that person may intend to use the weapon."
Campus police quickly found the student and arrested him. Police told Gow the gun was not loaded and he didn't have any ammo. To his knowledge, Gow did not know of anything like this happening before on campus.
"It's a little unsettling," Gow said. "I've never had this happen in my career that anyone has named me, but I guess it comes with the territory. But I've never had any interaction with the student before."
The chancellor said the university was working on putting out a notice to students that they were going to need to lock down, but then campus police were able to catch the student so quickly they didn't need to do that.
Students say they were shocked that something like this could happen so close to home.
"You here the stories online or on the news about Boston like the bombings and stuff, " said first year student Emily Nuernberg. "Wow, that's still a major event, but still it's weird to know that it hit here."
Gow said the university put out a notice via email and voice messages alerting students, employees and others about the incident.
Students are still wondering why this happened.
"I still want to know how this all happened," said first-year student Merari Cordova. "Why today? Just so many questions."
It may take a while yet for some students to feel normal again.
"I am a little shaken up, but I'm glad how quickly everyone reacted," said Nuernberg. "I feel confident that we're good at supporting and taking care of situations really well."
No one was injured and there was no further threat to the university, police told Gow. The chancellor said he was proud of how fast campus police were able to find the student. Gow estimates that the incident took about 10 minutes-from the time the call came in there was a person on campus to police finding the student.
Campus police are working with City of La Crosse police on this case. Rohde said they haven't figured out what charges to recommend to the district attorney's office yet, but he thinks disorderly conduct armed with a weapon is a possible charge.
The university has not released the name of the student.
Rohde said the student studies at UW-L part-time and does not live on campus.
Gow said the student is currently undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
Counseling services are on hand at the university for students and staff.