The campus of a liberal arts college in Maine was put on lockdown early Saturday morning after a shot was fired in a student housing complex during what one student called a massive annual party.
Colby College said no students were hurt during an altercation that involved a firearm being discharged at the Alfond Senior Apartments on the campus in Waterville, Maine.
No Colby students were injured and the suspect was not affiliated with the college, while the police were continuing to look for others involved, the school said in a statement.
Police did not perceive imminent danger to the campus community, but asked students to stay in place throughout the night out of an abundance of caution, the college said.
Normal operations were expected to resume in the morning and counseling services would be available for individual and group support on campus, where staff provided support to students during the night, the school said.
An email sent to the student body by Interim Dean of the College Barbara Moore at 2:21 a.m., which was shared by a student, said the Waterville Police Department “have a person in custody who attended events there and fired a gun.”
“We urge you to shelter in place until we have additional information that the campus is entirely safe,” wrote Moore, who did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press.
The Waterville Police Department did not immediately respond to a message from the AP seeking additional information.
Landon Kissell, an 18-year-old freshman from Manhasset, New York, said he left campus by car “just to play it 100% safe” about five minutes after receiving a message about the incident at 1:49 a.m.
“We have an open campus so there is not any security to stop anyone from entering or leaving campus so I was able to just drive right out,” Kissell told the AP in a social media direct message, adding that he stayed in communication with his friends on campus.
“It was more at first just a state of confusion where nobody understood what was going on. There were different rumors swirling immediately of what was actually happening,” he said.
“There was definitely some scramble to find a secure location but since everyone was inside already due to the temperature that most people either stayed right where they were or went to the next building over and locked themselves there,” Kissell said.
Alfond apartments, where the shot was fired, was the site of what Kissell described as “a massive party night” that takes place for about 24 hours every year on St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is on March 17 but the party, known as “doghead,” was moved up by a week this year because the holiday falls during Colby’s spring break, he said.
Kissell first learned of the lockdown from his dormitory resident assistant, who sent a text to students in the Sturtevent residence hall.
“Everyone was freaking out at first especially because nobody ever expected having to go into lockdown in little Waterville, Maine,” Kissell said. “But since an official email was sent out by the school things have been better.”
Kissell did not initially see the email from Moore or another from a student government leader who told students to remain in place.
“I never saw those emails until just now because who would think to check their email in a situation of panic right?” Kissell said at 3:25 a.m. from his car in the state capital of Augusta, about 20 miles (32 km) south of the Colby campus. He was considering whether to spend the rest of the night with friends at Bates College in Lewiston, another 34 miles (54 km) south of Augusta.
Colby, founded in 1813, is the 12th oldest liberal arts college in the U.S., according to the school’s website.