On Sunday, April 16, the University of New Mexico library buildings on central campus were evacuated as a result of an anonymous threat which turned out to be a hoax, according to a statement shared on behalf of the University Libraries.
A Lobo Alert informed students of police activity at Zimmerman, Centennial, Parish Libraries and George Pearl Hall at 4:34 p.m. A second alert was sent at 5:00 p.m. stating that police had cleared the area.
Police notified the on-site staff at Zimmerman immediately, according to the statement. It was the only library that was open during this time, and it was closed for the remainder of the day after the evacuation.
Andrea Juarez, an online graduate student at Ball State University, was in Zimmerman at the time of the incident. A library employee told the students that there was an active shooter and everybody needed to leave, Juarez said.
“I found out later that it was the libraries that were being targeted,” Juarez said. “There wasn’t a lot of information on where the person was, or if there was even a person, and that’s when I started feeling a little unsafe.”
Juarez said that she evacuated at around 4:04 p.m. Informing employees that there was an active shooter when there wasn’t one could create dangerous situations because of the way people could react, Juarez said.
“That information needs to be relayed equally across the board and with enough detail,” Juarez said. “We need everybody to be on the same page so that we don’t freak anybody out. Give us all of the information, make sure everybody has the same information, and we will comply.”
Despite this, Juarez said that she was impressed with the way that the community handled the situation. She said that she still felt safe because the library employees were calm and tried to keep everybody informed to the best of their knowledge.
“People think to take care of each other, which is really impressive,” Juarez said.
Leo Lo, the dean of the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences, was relieved that the threat was a hoax, according to the statement from the University Libraries. He also was concerned that the campus faced this threat in the first place.
University Libraries continues to work closely with other UNM offices to review the response, and plans to utilize training and education to learn from the situation.
Lauren Lifke is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com
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