January 25, 2014

Police Hold Suspect After Southern Adventist Campus Placed on "Lockdown"


A Seventh-day Adventist university campus in the U.S. state of Tennessee was put on lockdown for more than two hours today after campus safety officials received a “perceived threat” against the university, a university spokesman said.

The lockdown at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale began at 12:10 p.m. and ended at 2:21 p.m. when campus officials announced that Collegedale Police had a person of interest in custody, said Lucas Patterson, a spokesman for the university.

Patterson said a former Southern student was on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College earlier in the day making complaints against Southern. “It was a localized perceived threat against our campus,” Patterson said. Officials from Chattanooga State contacted Campus Safety officials at Southern to warn them of the threat, he said.

Patterson said Collegedale police detained a person of interest at a local YMCA. He was taken into custody, Patterson said, but he has not been arrested. Patterson said the man in question had not attended Southern for several years.

A spokesperson for the Collegedale Police did not immediately return requests for comment.

Students and staff were advised to lock their doors and stay away from windows, Patterson said. The nearby Adventist elementary school, middle school and high school were included in the lockdown, as well as the nearby Adventist Book Center. No one was injured in the incident, Patterson said.

“We handle threats very seriously, that’s why we err on the side of caution to protect people,” Patterson said. “Sure it was inconvenient, but inconvenience is a small price to pay for protection.”

The university will hold an assembly in the university church this evening at 6 p.m. to address the incident and answer questions from students and staff. “Through social media we saw some rumors that ended up not being true,” Patterson said. During the lockdown, Collegedale Police had responded to reports of gunshots on Southern's campus, a university statement said. Police found no evidence of this, the statement said.

Patterson said counseling is always available on campus, and school administrators have asked counselors to “clear their plate” to prioritize students wishing to receiving counseling over today’s incident.

Southern’s enrollment is approximately 3,300 students—more than 2,500 of whom reside on or around campus. The school has been in operation since 1892, when it was known as Graysville Academy.