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Balloon popping inside Cooper sparks 911 calls

A class exercise involving popping balloons led to multiple 911 call to report “gunshots” from Cooper Hall on Friday morning.

A class exercise on campus caused a commotion Friday morning when a professor popping balloons during class in room 119 in Cooper Hall prompted multiple calls to University Police (UP).

The calls began at 12:52 p.m., overflowing to backup call-receiving centers. Callers reported hearing gunshots coming from the classroom. According to UP Captain  Mike Klingebiel, officers responded almost immediately and linked the alleged gunshots to the classroom with the balloons within a few minutes. 

Four officers were initially on scene. 

Klingebiel said UP tracked the “shots” to an adjoining classroom and spoke to students engaged in the exercise. They were able to determine that the balloon popping was the cause of the concern.

UP had a message for the mobile campus alert system, MoBull, prepared. After discovering the source of the noise was popping balloons, it sent out a different message stating there was “no threat to (the) community” and to “continue normal activities.”

The professor currently faces no criminal charges. Any reprimand would be at the discretion of the university, Klingebiel said, since the professor did not do anything that would necessitate repercussions from UP.

“We’re very thankful everything turned out okay,” Klingebiel said.