Authorities: Report of gunman at MIT was a hoax

Posted: 02/23/13 at 9:50 am EST      Last Updated: 02/23/13 at 11:29 pm EST

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WHDH) -- A reported threat on the MIT campus had police searching for a man carrying a long rifle and wearing body armor. Police discovered the report was a hoax, but they took this security scare very seriously.

The message into police said that there was a man with a gun inside this building on the MIT campus. It came in at 7:28 a.m. Saturday and within two minutes police were swarming all around and inside the building.

Photos sent to 7News show members of the SWAT Team outside the main group building of MIT on 77 Massachusetts Avenue.

"Multiple law enforcement agencies on campus in response to a report of a person with a gun on campus,” said Christian Reed, a student.

Cambridge police received an electronic message of a man with a long rifle and body armor inside the building.

"We were told to stay inside,” said Reed.

MIT sent out a text alert to all students signed up with the emergency system.

"They were very straight forward, warning us not to go on campus,” said Garrit Hall, MIT student.

"I walked out of here and you could see, bunch of police cars, looked like some sort of swat team was walking through here, but I didn't really know much before that,” said Reed.

Police thoroughly searched the building and found nothing. So nearly three hours later, the building was deemed safe.

“I guess it was a little bit scary, but we had police patrolling around campus, I had my RT's standing guard outside our door to make sure nothing happened without them knowing. They were making sure no one left the building until we got the all clear,” said Paula Gonzalez, student.

"Well it was really concerning you had to take things more seriously considering what has been happening in the past few weeks, no one really knew what to expect,” said Reed.

The FBI and secret service, along with Cambridge and MIT police are now involved because of the severity of the threat.

"We treat all threats as credible until deemed otherwise and that's for the safety of the campus and community at large,” said Lt. John Boyle, Cambridge Police Department.

"Yes, MIT is all about the hacks and doing all the cool, funny things, but when you start to mix in firearms and all the regulations we're trying to get through Congress, it starts getting to a weird point where it's not funny anymore,” said Andrew Birkel, MIT employee.

The first alert to students didn't go out for more than an hour, but we don't know a reason yet for the delay. The commissioner said there was never a man in the building with a gun and they will be pressing charges if they discover the source of the message.

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