Daily Egyptian

No evidence of gunfire found in Lawson Hall

By Aaron Graff and Luke Nozicka, Daily Egyptian

Following reports of gunshots in Lawson Hall just before 9 p.m. on Friday during a talent show, SIU police did not find evidence of shots fired.

University spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith could not confirm gunshots, but said there was an altercation. The Department of Public Safety found no casings, but did report seeing blood as evidence of an altercation in front of room 171.

Several students said they heard shots fired, while others said there was a fight. No injuries were reported.

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SIU police are investigating and officers walked through buildings near Lawson and evacuated them for safety.  

The hall was being used for a variety show presented by the Registered Student Organization, Underground Arts, which was concluding at 9 p.m.

Destiny McClendon, secretary of Underground Arts, said she is disgusted by reports of gun fire.

“I don’t know who started this rumor but there were not guns involved,” said McClendon, a sophomore from Chicago studying fashion merchandising and marketing. “There was an altercation, a physical fight and that was it. People were performing on stage — if there was guns involved, it would have been evident.”

She said while setting up the final acts, the room broke out in chaos after one man was jumped by others. McClendon did not know how many people were fighting, but estimated that more than 100 people were present and the room was filled to capacity.

Tierra Carpenter, who attended the event, said she heard a loud noise from what friends told her was a group of people jumping one person. Carpenter, an intern at the Daily Egyptian, said after hearing the noise people hid under their chairs during the fight, but does not believe the noise was gunfire. 

“There’s a lot of speculation right now” about gun use, said Carpenter, a freshman from Lansing studying journalism

McClendon apologized to the university for the incident and said the organization tried to maintain a safe environment without the use of security guards.

“Underground Arts promotes peace and tried to have a safe event, but some rowdy individuals messed that up,” she said.

Police taped off the entrances to the lecture hall, and eventually extended it to light poles and trees around the building.

SIU’s emergency alert system sent messages at 9:16 p.m. saying possible shots fired and to evacuate the area immediately. At 10:30 p.m. they issued an update saying the area was secure, and the remainder of the campus is open. By 11:30 p.m., an SIU alert stated the building had been reopened despite the ongoing investigation.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Reporting by Luke Nozicka. Branda Mitchell, Tyler Davis and Aja Garman contributed to this story.

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 256

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