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UTA Reopens After Reports Of Armed Man

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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(credit: University of Texas at Arlington)

(credit: University of Texas at Arlington)

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - The UT Arlington campus was locked down for awhile Wednesday after a former student with emotional issues— and a gun— was thought to be headed there.

He was finally found in Dallas later in the morning and the university returned to normal.

“We started sending out messages about this potential threat about 4:30 this morning,” said UTA’s Kristen Sullivan, who added the word went out on the university’s website, through e-mails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, and local broadcast media.  The warning was updated two hours later, and finally the university closed at 7:41 AM.

Elias Mercado was supposed to take a test to be a licensed counselor, but didn’t.  “It’s hard for everyone, but you’ve got to look out for safety first.”

Mercado says he never got word about the threat until he arrived on campus. Neither did Yvonne Correa, who said she actually walked into a campus police station says but no one told her.

“I just walked right in like I was invisible. It was like anybody could’ve gotten through there.  I saw a lot of cops there and they were talking but their backs were turned towards me, obviously.”  She added, “It was pretty alarming that I got through the security and nobody said anything to me.  So, it was pretty insecure.”

Dallas police found the man several hours later at his home. He did have a gun, but never threatened anyone according to police, who added the shutdown was UTA’s call.

“It wasn’t overreaction,” said Dallas Police Major Drayson Robertson. “We appreciate the help from UTA and the other agencies involved.”   The school says it takes all situations like this seriously and would approach it the same way if it happened tomorrow.

“I think the action was perfect the way they handled it,” agreed Danny Defenbaugh, referring to the actions of both UTA and Dallas police.  Defenbaugh formerly headed the Dallas FBI. He says given the current climate with schools and guns, the actions were all appropriate, especially until it was determined no one else was involved.

“There have been a lot of situations, particularly with schools and campuses, where it’s not just a lone wolf or one person or one individual.”

Defenbaugh adds it was a real world test of UTA’s alert system and the school will likely review it.

The man involved did not arrive at UTA. He is not being charged with any crime, according to Dallas police, but is being evaluated at a mental health facility.

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