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Details emerge in MSU “shelter-in-place” incident

Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 20:20:18-04

BOZEMAN – A man is behind bars after a shelter-in-place incident in Bozeman on Thursday afternoon.

This after police say the disgruntled Montana State University employee had made threats to “end it all” with guns loaded — and take others with him.

MSU Police received a report of a threat made by a MSU employee and after that officers moved quickly — locking all buildings — and immediately started looking for the man behind it.

“The suspect stated to a family member that he was ready to end it all and…all of his guns loaded and he was
ready to take out anyone with him,” MSU Chief of Police Frank Parrish said.

Agencies from across the area rallied to work through the Gallatin County 911 Center and the Emergency Alert
System. The suspect was nowhere to be found — but just minutes before had been at the campus police station.

“In this particular case, we didn’t know where the suspect was. We knew he was on campus because he came by about 20 minutes prior to that and bought a parking pass,” Chief Parrish said.

“He was also scheduled for a 2 o’clock meeting — a dismissal hearing. He was an employee going through the disciplinary process,” he added.

Chief Parrish says the man was possibly armed with several guns.

“We were told that the suspect had two shotguns and a rifle [that] we have not recovered at this time, but that’s all the information that we have on that. He was not armed at the time that he was taken into custody.”

Police worked quickly — using the county Emergency Alert System and sending text alerts out to students and
staff — putting the university into a shelter-in-place mode, something both campus officials and all police agencies involved say might have changed how this played out.

“The joint operation of county 911 center allowed us to dispatch units from all over the county instantaneously,
something that in the past, we didn’t have the capability of doing,” Parrish said.

“The Emergency Alert System is absolutely vital. I mean, in a situation where we’ve got something fast-moving happening, we’d want to get that information out quickly.”

The shelter-in-place was lifted, no one was hurt, and the man was sent to the Gallatin County Detention Center. Without the help of technology and teamwork Chief Parrish says this could have ended much differently.

“They followed the procedures that we trained them in doing, they listened to the emergency alert. I’d also like
to really thank leadership here at MSU because without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to put these security measures in place that I believe makes MSU very safe.”

-Cody Boyer reporting for MTN News


BOZEMAN:  Montana State University in Bozeman posted on their website at 2:16 p.m. an “ALL CLEAR”.

Here is the alert: 

Updated 2:16pm: This is a message from Montana State University Police. ALL CLEAR. The situation is all clear. You may resume normal activities.

MSU officials released the following news release about the incident.

At approximately 12:15 p.m., Montana State University Police received a report of a credible threat to campus made by an MSU employee, prompting a campus-wide shelter in place order.

The situation has since been resolved and the male employee has been taken into custody without incident. The shelter in place order was lifted at approximately 2:15 p.m. No one was harmed. 

An investigation is underway. The man was being interviewed by police on Thursday afternoon, and no charges had yet been filed. The man’s name has not been released.

After the report of the threat was received, officers began searching for the man. Just before 1 p.m., University Police issued an MSU Alert emergency notification instructing everyone on campus to shelter in place while the search was conducted. 

According to police, the man had stated to a family member that he was ready to end his life and that he had weapons and was ready to harm others around him. Police later discovered social media posts from the man with similar messages.

Officers from MSUPD, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department and the Montana Highway Patrol responded and helped search for the man. He was located in Norm Asbjornson Hall and taken into custody at approximately 2:10 p.m.

Police confirmed that the man owned two shotguns and a rifle, but he did not have any firearms in his possession when he was taken into custody.

MSU wishes to thank the officers from the agencies named above, as well as Gallatin County Emergency Management, for their assistance.

MTN News continues to wait on details on the circumstances surrounding the safety alert.

BOZEMAN: Montana State University in Bozeman issued an alert asking people on campus to shelter in place.  It is unknown at this time the circumstances that required the alert.

Here is the original alert posted on the Montana State University website:

“This is a message from the University Police Department. Officers are responding to a situation on the campus. Seek shelter inside a room with a locking door. Close windows and blinds. Continue normal activity. Do not leave secured space until further instructions provided.”

MTN News has a reporter enroute to campus.  We will have updates on this developing story.