Campus locked down during search for armed man


Classes were canceled and a small private college went on lockdown today as police searched for a man who was seen with a gun on campus, officials said.

Ferrum College President Jennifer Braaten activated an alert system and ordered the school locked down after a member of the housekeeping staff reported seeing a young man walk into a residence hall with a handgun, Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt said at a news conference.

"Basically, he told the housekeeper not to say anything about it and he continued on," Hunt said.

There have been no reports of threats and no one on campus had been harmed, Hunt said.

Hunt told The Roanoke Times that police questioned two people as persons of interest. A nearby elementary school also was locked down.

"No one has been hurt, no one is in a panic mode," Braaten said at the news conference.

State police sent troopers to the campus, as well as officers from surrounding counties, school spokeswoman Natalie Faunce said.

"Ever since Virginia Tech, we can't be careful enough," she said. "That's where we are."

More than 900 of the school's 1,200 students live on campus, and Braaten said they were being sent to a central location.

"The students are OK," Faunce said.

The school, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, is in a rural setting 35 miles south of Roanoke, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Last April 16, a student gunman killed 32 people and committed suicide on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, which is less than 50 miles away.

And less than two weeks ago, on Feb. 14, a gunman entered a crowded Northern Illinois University class, killing five students before taking his own life.

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