Suspect arrested, all clear given at USF in gunman threat

University Police arrested a male suspect Monday near Parking and Transportation Services in connection with reports of a gunman with a bomb on campus.

Police officers surrounded a Bull Runner bus around 3 p.m. and removed the suspect who witnesses say stood up in the bus and said, “I’m the person you’re looking for,” said UP spokeswoman Lt. Meg Ross.

UP then arrested the suspect.

UP requested that the Tampa Police bomb team respond to the Parking and Transportation Services area to search a “suspicious” backpack, Ross said.

The bomb team used a robot to detonate the backpack around 4:30 p.m. Ross said UP is not sure if the backpack belongs to the suspect.

“The suspected device is no longer a suspected device,” Ross said.

The bomb squad left the scene around 5:30 p.m.

A message posted on the University Web site at 4:23 p.m. said the campus was cleared and that students could “resume normal activities.”

Ross said UP received three reports of armed suspects on campus Monday a gunman in the library, a gunman on a Bull Runner bus and a man with a knife near Russell M. Cooper Hall.

Someone originally called the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) reporting a gunman near the library and HCSO then contacted UP, Ross said.

UP received the first call at 1:36 p.m., Ross said.

Six MoBull text messages were sent out Monday regarding the armed suspects. The first message was sent at 1:49 p.m. to alert students of the gunman at the library.

“Armed Intruder on campus. Stay inside. Lock doors,” the alert said.

Ross said officers reported to the library at 1:43 p.m. The library was evacuated and UP officers searched the area, she said.

A second MoBull message was sent at 2:06 p.m. saying officers were on the scene.

“Avoid the area and report anything suspicious,” the message said.

After searching the area surrounding the library, Ross said UP did not find the suspect.

Another male subject was seen near Cooper Hall carrying a large hunting knife and a black puppy, according to a MoBull text message sent at 3:20 p.m.

The message said the suspect was a white male wearing a black tank top and a cowboy hat.

Police took a suspect into custody in front of the Business Hall around 3:30 p.m.

A witness, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had a conversation with the suspect in Cooper Hall before the suspect was arrested.

The witness said the suspect “was innocent” and was “not involved” with the gunman incidents.

The suspect was later released after he told police that he had the hunting knife because he just returned from a hunting trip with his girlfriend.

Ross said an investigation of the suspect in custody is still ongoing.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s edition of the Oracle.

– Additional Reporting by Chadd Brown, Yaffi Hilili, Kerry Klecic, Issa Luckett, Katie Nelson, Mike Wilson, Selma Younes