University of Akron Polsky Building closed, police investigate report of person inside with weapon

AKRON, Ohio - University of Akron police evacuated and closed the University's Polsky Building to investigate a report of a person inside with a weapon.

At 6:29 p.m. Thursday, University of Akron police reported they had secured the building and they found "nothing out of the ordinary." Police gave the "all clear" just after 7 p.m.

On Facebook, a student in the building posted the following comment to our page at 6:26 p.m.:

I was in a sign language class just a few minutes ago. Someone came into class late and informed us about the police outside guarding the elevators with their weapons drawn. Our wonderful teacher went to check out what was going on. She came in and told us that we needed to leave the building. I am save now at my home.

"Our dispatcher received a call at around 5:12 p.m. this evening from a young lady who thought she saw an individual walking through the 3rd floor of the Polsky Building here on the University Campus, which she said she saw the butt of a gun protruding from his jacket," said University of Akron's Police Chief Paul Callahan.

Callahan said the gun could have been hanging in a gun shoulder holster.

The building was evacuated and officers could be seen walking through the hallways armed as they performed sweeps. Notification on the university's website alerted students the building was closed.

"About 10 minutes after class started, a police officer walked in and pulled the teacher aside and then we were told that we had to pick up our things and evacuate the building," said Alex Zimmerman, who was in class at the time.

Zimmerman then described a "low key" evacuation, but those arriving for night class to flashing lights had heightened concerns.

"It's a little unnerving," said Lavert Martin. "I got quite a few professors in there, could they be hurt, you know."

Evan Kostalek, a senior at the university, told NewsChannel 5, "For the majority, most of the time, it's very rare that there's a weapon incident of the sort (here)."

Kostalek and other students attributed this to the fact that the building is shared between the university, Summit College and the police academy. The building is also across the street from the Akron Police Department headquarters.

"It's not uncommon to see police officers in the Polsky building, just walking around," Zimmerman said.

Callahan acknowledged this could have been what the female student saw.

"Whether there's an actual weapon or not, we don't know. She feels pretty confident that there was so that's the kind of information we'd like to know. We appreciate people give us a call when they see something suspicious and we will respond appropriately. The young lady did the right thing."

After police cleared the building, students and staff were allowed back in to retrieve their belongings left behind. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day, but are expected to continue as normal Friday. 

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