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Students were put on alert by text messages

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: theday.com

Published July 24. 2012 10:00AM   Updated July 24. 2012 10:45AM

Groton — Students and staff on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus didn't know what to think when they received a text alert late Monday night notifying them that an armed man was on campus and that evacuation measures were underway.

"It was scary," said Leigha Krize, a marine science student who is going to be a senior. "We're really a small community here so I really didn't know what to think. Not too many people are on campus at that hour but still there are some students around conducting late-night experiments."

Krize said her parents received an email alert, notifying them of the campus situation and called her first thing in the morning to make sure she was OK.

"They just wanted to know that I was safe," Krize said. "You hear about other gunmen on college campuses so it was slightly terrifying that one was here."

Yosha Dhungana, an incoming freshman who was taking a math course in the Marine Sciences Building, said she was "shocked" when she received the late-night text.

She said she felt safe once she received another text saying the situation was under control and didn't hesitate to go back on campus today.

Police said an armed gunman killed himself this morning on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus. The man was not identified by police but they said he was not a student.

Area police had been notified of a despondent person who could be suicidal about 5 p.m. Monday, according to Lt. J. Paul Vance, the state police spokesman. Police located the man's car on campus at about 10 p.m. and found the man, near the water's edge, shortly after.

A group of high school students in a summer program was on campus at the time, according to Stephanie Reitz, a university spokeswoman. She said they were guarded by UConn police and parents were given the option of picking them up. No college students were on campus.

Thaxter Tewksbury, director of Project Oceanology, said there were two overnight camps totaling 40 students staying at the program's hostel.

He said parents were called and only one opted to pick up their child.

He said the students were sleeping during the incident and were located on the opposite end of the campus from the man with the gun.

"You couldn't see or hear a thing," said Tewksbury. "The campus and police presence was really great. They were with us throughout the lockdown."

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