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Man With Airsoft Gun Causes Lockdown at Carroll University, Area Schools

Tactical units from the Waukesha Police Department and Waukesha County Sheriff's Department helped bring one person into custody, although the investigation is ongoing.

A man who police say was walking around the Carroll University campus Tuesday with an airsoft-style gun is in custody following an incident that resulted in 90-minute lockdown at the college and surrounding schools.

The lockdown was put into place around 10:30 a.m., after Waukesha received a call from from Carroll security saying that several students reported seeing a man in his 50s or 60s carrying a shotgun or rifle on the northwest side of the campus, police said.

By noon, the suspect — a 50-year-old Waukesha man — was located off campus in an apartment building within blocks of the incident, and was taken into custody without incident.

The weapon was later located and determined to be an airsoft weapon, which is similar to a BB gun and is not designed to be lethal, police said.

Police are continuing the investigation as they learn more information about why the man was carrying the facsimile firearm through campus.

“At this point, we have to look into what he did and whether it is illegal,” Waukesha Police Capt. Ron Oremus said. “If it was a firearm, we can tell you that you aren’t allowed to carry that within 1,000 feet of a school by state law. As far as him carrying an airsoft gun, I am not sure if there was anything illegal. We will be looking into that.”

Carroll University does not allow weapons on its campus. Additionally, it is difficult to distinguish visually between facsimile firearms and a real rifle.

“It absolutely can look identical (to a rifle),” Oremus said. “As a firearms instructor, I can tell you that you wouldn’t tell the difference until you handle a weapon.”

Mass response from area agencies

Tactical vehicles from the Waukesha Police Department and Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department were on scene, as well as the Menomonee Falls K-9 Unit, the Waukesha Fire Department and the FBI.

The non-lethal airsoft-style gun was recovered at the man’s nearby apartment where they located him. Police believe he walked to his home through the Carroll campus.

Students reported seeing a man with a gun walking near the tennis courts and Barstow building, according to an alert text message to students from the school.

A second text message sent to students said, "Remain inside your building, subject described as a male in his 50s, brown jacket, black hat, last seen walking west from Barstow Street towards Grand."

A third message canceled classes, and told students who were home to stay there, and those on campus to stay put. 

Students receved the notifications from Caroll's PioAlert system, designed to provide instant messages to students, staff and faculty.

At no time were Carroll students, staff or faulty in danger, the university said.

“The PioAlert system worked perfectly,” said Theresa Barry, vice president of student affairs, said in a statement. “Students received key information immediately and followed the directions of law enforcement professionals.”

Weapons are not allowed on campus, though Airsoft guns were permitted under supervision for a club several years ago, saidMichael Zens, director of public safety at Carroll.

“Given yesterday’s events and the recent history at schools, we take these things very seriously,” Oremus said. “We obviously responded in that way, took it very seriously and took the subject into custody. … Obviously in today’s day and age, we have to take these threats very seriously, as we did.”

Neighbors react to incident

Donna Neufang Landwehr, who lives on campus ,said there were a lot of police cars on the streets.

"Grand Avenue is blocked off," she wrote on Waukesha Patch's Facebook page. "Students still outside, but as I was walking my dog about five minutes ago a student told me they had been alerted and that everyone was to stay inside if at all possible."

Amanda Michell said on Facebook Central Middle School was on lockdown. A woman also said on Facebook that Saratoga Stem Academy was on lockdown. St. Mary's and Catholic Memorial High School was on lockout.

Carroll University student Kara Henderlight was walking to her car after class when she received a text notification about a gunman on campus at 10:39 a.m.

“I got the text and ran to my car. Holy crap, my car was right next to Barstow so I just ran to my car as fast as I could. I sat there for a minute, I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t know what to do. I thought about it and I left.”

Henderlight was worried about her friends who were still on campus.

“The teachers were shutting the windows and were putting the blackboards up against the board to make sure nobody gets in,” Henderlight said about her friends’ classes.

Luke April 16, 2013 at 09:38 PM
These airsoft guns are common in the guys' dorms, whether or not they are allowed. In class, you can often hear the guys laughing about running around in their shorts and shooting one another. If shot, they usually have a mark that looks like a mosquito bite. There's a dorm at that school where, a few years ago, the guys used the guns on anyone that was walking around naked. They wanted an environment where they didn't have to worry about an embarrassing situation when family or friends were invited over. It was a fun and friendly way of enforcing an agreed upon rule, even though it isn't necessarily perfectly safe.
Keith Worst April 16, 2013 at 09:48 PM
What does it matter? We need to get guns out if the hands of everyone, including the police. We also need to ban the discussion of guns with anyone under the age of 18. In our culture we talk about guns with kids and they see guns on TV. Then they play with squirt guns. Many kids have been squirted over the years. The squirting MUST stop. I look forward to the day when the only people that have guns are the criminals. Then we will be safe.
Mr Lundt April 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Tony I repeat when the cops close down streets and lock down schools--- what would you call it?
Mr Lundt April 16, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Concerns parent You don't have a right to "feel" anything. Most of your feelings are in your control. You should be safe and it is not unreasonable to ask if there was an over-reaction.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) April 16, 2013 at 10:28 PM
I thought you can open carry in this state. However, Waukesha has an ordinance banning the shooting of airsofts.
concernedparent April 16, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Mr lundt ... Who took away my right to "feel"?? You really are just as messed up as the idiot with the "gun"!!
Mike Itzenhuiser April 16, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Worst case scenario?
Nicole Zeroth April 16, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Jamie, read my post again. No where did I say my thoughts on conceal and carry. Put simply, none of us were there to see how the man was with his "gun". I have no issues with people who legally carry; most of my family does. I have a problem with people who misuse guns and make dumb choices with them. I appreciate that the safety of my son matters to others in this situation. He should be safe at school!
Randy1949 April 16, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Let's all give Jaime Lannister a big 'hand' for the most sensitive post the Patch has seen to date. Of course a parent is going to be scared to death by reports of a man carrying a rifle and heading toward their kid's school. But are we going to make it a crime to carry a fake gun down the street? I suppose we can, in a country that can make it illegal to own a glass water-pipe even though nothing gets smoked in it.
Blue Eyes April 16, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Thank you first, to whoever reported what they saw. Thank you for all who kept my child safe at school!! Last, but definitely NOT least, thank you to ALL the Peace officers and K9s who responded.
Mr Lundt April 17, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Concered now believes that laws are based on her feelings. Feelings not facts--- a great way to run ---- nothing.
Steve ® April 17, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Your child was never in danger.
fromjanesville2waukesha April 17, 2013 at 05:10 AM
Waukesha Pd breaks out the machine guns and military trucks at the drop of a hat. One of these times a car is going to backfire or someone will get spooked and these guys are going to turn a neighborhood into Swiss cheese. Were not in the dessert anymore guys.
John Smith April 17, 2013 at 09:54 AM
Lol, fromjanesville2waukesha.
lifelongres April 17, 2013 at 01:30 PM
In the dessert? Didn't know we were in the chocolate cake to begin with?
rizzenmagnus April 17, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Did anyone notice the part where the police have the man in custody and are attempting to ascertain IF the man did anything illegal? 1) it was an airsoft gun. nothing illegal there 2) the 1000ft rule applies to schools, not universities or colleges. Looking at google maps, there is a scale reference of 1000ft, and you can see that if the guy was walking on barstow he would fall within 1000 feet (linear) of the school. see 2a... 2a) state statute (948.605) defines what a firearm is, and in this case, an airsoft gun is not a firearm. 3)City ordinance 11.13 states that it is illegal to discharge an airsoft weapon within city limits; nothing is stated that says a person cannot walk around with an airsoft weapon in hand, or slung over the shoulder. Nothing illegal there. According to state law and local ordinance, the man did nothing wrong.
Mr Lundt April 17, 2013 at 01:55 PM
LOL You have the most self centered view of how the world works.
Mr Lundt April 17, 2013 at 03:18 PM
rizz I am going to see how this plays out before I convict either the guy arrested or law enforcement.
Mike Talin April 17, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I feel the authorities acted right in this situation. Not knowing what they are up against they chose on the side of caution. Hats of for the good work of our police and safety officers and thank goodness it was just a "scare". Sometimes we need a little scare to resolve complacency.
Adam Kindred April 17, 2013 at 04:56 PM
I am a little confused here. Who is not in what "desert" anymore?
Tiffany Marshall April 17, 2013 at 04:57 PM
I understand their caution & reporting a man with a gun, because you never know, especially with all going on & the fact that airsoft guns can replicate the real thing. After they realized it was an airsoft gun tho, did they really have to take him into custody & make a big fiasco about it? Leave the guy alone. I'd hate to have an airsoft gun someday & walk down the street minding my own business, but oooo I am too close to a building that doesn't allow guns, etc. like I am supposed to know the rules because I attend this school. Next thing you know I have swat after me, what not. It's like walking on eggshells & being paranoid whatever you do, where ever you go, because in this day & age, it's not just the bad guys you have to worry about....
fromjanesville2waukesha April 17, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Sorry for the typo made while using my cell... I mean that we pull guys off battlefields and fast track them to the Pd. It seems WPD is quick to call in the soldiers. Waukesha is not a war zone folks.
Fred van der Wal April 17, 2013 at 05:32 PM
I find all kind of excuses here as of why it should be ok to carry a weapon (on campus) just because the carrier might have concealed permits. And because nothing serious happened. There is a debate of rights. College and PD acted correctly in this case, resent history have shown that too many people with a gun on campus have not the right intentions. Besides the conversation shows here that the pro-gun lobbyists here come up with all kind of excuses not to have their removed then sincerely considering a more morbid outcome.
tjm April 17, 2013 at 05:33 PM
No notification from Waukesha schools went out to nearby 4 k site in regards to possible gunman in the area, teacher was ready to take the kids out for recess until a parent called. Why doesn't a safety alert go out to these off site schools that the district contracts with? Kudos to the WPD, shame on the school district for dropping the ball. All " regular" public schools got the alert and were on lock down. Seems our youngest were forgotten. In light of recent events, one would assume all our children had safety protocols in place
Fred van der Wal April 17, 2013 at 05:36 PM
@rizzenmagnus your information on the law,might be correct.The rest is all hindsight.. When the PD was informed about a man walking with a gun,it was not said to slow down for "he's only walking with a air soft weapon".
Average Bill April 17, 2013 at 05:51 PM
That has to be one of the stupidest things I have read in these comments. A combat veteran would be a lot more effective in this situation. They would be calmer, react with quicker more effective judgment. They have been in these types of situations before and have the experience. Whether there was an actual threat or just a “false alarm”, WPD acted correctly.
Brianhd71 April 17, 2013 at 07:37 PM
Put him on double secret probation for taking his airsoft gun to school.
Adam Kindred April 17, 2013 at 08:42 PM
TOGA TOGA TOGA TOGA
Keith Worst April 17, 2013 at 09:21 PM
That's right. If a gunman starts shooting people on campus, the people who had their guns taken away should throw their books at him to get him to go away. After all, knowledge is power.
fromjanesville2waukesha April 17, 2013 at 09:42 PM
If you think "these situations" are just like the killing fields of Iraq our opinions differ to a great extent. We don't need to "shock and awe" in every single circumstance. When we bring 50 heavily armed men into our neighborhoods time and time again, mistakes are inevitable.

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