‘Gunshot’ Flash ALERT turns out to be false alarm

Dana Miller

Reports of a gunshot near Centennial Court E and Koonce Hall early Wednesday morning, prompting the Kent State Police Department to send out a Flash ALERT, turned out to be a truck backfiring.

Officer Tricia Knoles of Kent State Police Department said the first report came at 1:11 a.m. from an anonymous caller. She said shortly after, more people called in to report a gunshot.

“They (KSUPD) decided they were getting multiple calls, so they should put out Flash ALERTS for two purposes,” Knoles said. “First of all, to alert people that we are aware of it, and we are investigating it. Second of all, if it is a gunshot, to have people clear the area if there was something in that situation occurring.”

After the first Flash ALERT was sent out via email and text message shortly after 1:30 a.m., a citizen who lives in the area called the police department and explained what happened.

“The subject (who) was living in the area thought, ‘I bet that was me that they heard when my truck backfired,’” Knoles said. “He then called in and said, ‘I just want to call and let you know, I don’t think that was a gunshot they heard. I think that was my truck backfiring.’”

An officer went to check the scene, and after talking with the subject and examining his vehicle, it was determined the noise came from the truck backfiring, Knoles said.

“I could see where someone could confuse a truck backfiring with a possible gunshot,” Knoles said. “On midnight shift when there are not a lot of people around and the air is clear, it can amplify. That might be where people thought it was possibly a gun shot.”

A second Flash ALERT was sent out at about 2 a.m. announcing it was indeed a truck.

The initial Flash ALERT left many students anxious.

“I felt a little concerned,” said Vanessa Reese, a senior fashion merchandising major. “I know a couple years ago, there was a shooter on campus, and then the fact that there’s been two (gunshot reports) this year has been scary.”

Logan Helmick, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major, was already asleep and hadn’t heard the sound but woke up concerned after seeing the alert on his phone.

“I had just woken up and initially I was worried that a shooting had taken place,” Helmick said. “By the time I had read the next text about it being just a truck backfiring, I just dismissed the whole thing.”

Dana Miller is the safety and transportation reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]