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Yale Lockdown Lifted; Police Chief Calls Possible Hoax "Malicious"

Thomas MacMillan
New Haven Independent

Police are still searching Yale's campus after an anonymous caller told police that a shooter was coming to campus. But the "shelter in place" order for Yale's Campus has been lifted. New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said he's leaning toward thinking the phone call was a hoax, and he had strong words for the caller, saying it was malicious and purposeful and that the police would find out who is responsible and charge them accordingly.

"We are going to err on the side of caution. In this day and age, when there is a call, it behooves us to over-react." - NHPD Chief Dean Esserman

Here's a bit of what we could piece together from this confusing day in New Haven: 

"Teams from Yale Police, New Haven and the State Police are on the scene and are actively searching for any gunman," campus safety announced.

An alert at The Yale Daily News said that during the room search, police would identify themselves and slip their ID cards under the door for confirmation of identity. "Please cooperate," the notice on the website says, "but do not open your doors for anyone without identification."

During a briefing, Officer David Hartman of the New Haven Police said an anonymous male caller to 911 on Monday morning issued a warning. The caller said that his roommate was en route to Yale's campus "with the intention of shooting people."

New Haven police urged people to avoid the area. Traffic on the surrounding clogged streets because of road closures. Those on and near campus were alerted to the threat Monday morning with emails, text messages and a loudspeaker, announcing: “Confirmed report of a person with a gun on Old Campus. Shelter in place at once. This is not a test.” The report was audible from the Green.

At around 9:40 am Monday, New Haven Police received an anonymous call from a phone booth in the 300 block of Columbus Avenue, between Howard Avenue and Hallock Street, reporting a person on the Yale campus with a gun. "There have been no confirmations or sightings of this person," the public safety website said. Officer Hartman confirmed that the initial 911 call came from a public pay phone on Columbus Street. During the brief call, a male warned police that his roommate was going to Yale to shoot people on campus. There has been no word about whether anyone has been detained. 

Many students are away from campus for the Thanksgiving holiday, but many others were still in New Haven. Police have said that the smaller number of students has helped in their investigation and search. 

One student, Yale sophomore Adam Smith, spoke on The Colin McEnroe Show while on lockdown. He was sheltering in place in the lobby of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium. "I'm possibly in one of the safest places on campus," he said. "The one thing [the authorities] have kind of made clear is that staying inside will ensure safety, and it seems to me that there are no members of the public that are in direct danger right now. The police have it well under control."

Law enforcement from many local state and federal agencies are involved in the ongoing investigation. 

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman outlined what police were able to share so far:

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