Southern Adventist University was under a lockdown Thursday afternoon, but it was lifted by mid-afternoon. A man who allegedly made threats after he became upset over a delay in paperwork was arrested.
Collegedale Police said James Gaines made specific threats about using firearms and explosives on campus.
Police were told that Gaines was on his way to the campus, but he never reached the school and was arrested at another location.
The university said Gaines is a former student at Southern and that Chattanooga State officials advised them of the threats.
During the search for Gaines, police were told that shots had been fired inside a men's dormitory. Police said they received several 911 calls from students in regard to the alleged shots. Police could find no evidence that shots were fired.
Several Hamilton County schools were also locked down, but were re-opened.
The lockdown started a little after noon.
Emergency text alerts and overhead alarms instructed students that this was not a drill.
“This is a campus-wide lockdown,” the alarm stated. “Take shelter inside now. Lock doors and windows and move to an interior wall. Stay quiet and calm and wait for further instruction.”
Southern Adventist University issued this statement about the incident:
Today Chattanooga State Community College officials alerted Southern Adventist University to a perceived threat by a former Southern student that prompted our campus lockdown. This individual was located off campus and brought in for questioning by Collegedale police.
Many rumors have been circulating that are unfounded. One was that gunshots were fired in Talge Hall. This was responded to and investigated by Collegedale police. After a search of the building there was no evidence of this.
After Collegedale police determined the campus was not in danger, the campus lockdown was lifted. Southern Adventist University places a high priority on the safety of our students, employees, and campus guests and responds appropriately to perceived threats.
Southern is holding a joint worship for students at 6 p.m. in the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist church sanctuary where information and a question and answer time will be held after a short devotional. Counselors will be available there for any students who wish to speak with someone regarding the incident. Individuals who may feel they need to process today’s events outside of this evening’s worship service are encouraged to speak with a campus counselor in the Student Success Center located in Lynn Wood Hall.
The university would like to express gratitude to Southern’s Campus Safety and local emergency service personnel for their assistance and attention to keeping the campus safe.