NewsMontana News

Actions

'An instant scare': Students at MSU Billings frustrated over false active-shooter notification

False threat sent out via email and announced via intercom
Posted at 10:51 AM, Apr 03, 2024

BILLINGS — The scene on campus at Montana State University-Billings was chaos Tuesday morning after a false active shooter threat sent students scrambling.

"It's such a beautiful campus,” said Echo Roush, a student at the school, on Tuesday. “Until today, I would have never thought something (like this) would have happened, to be honest."

Echo Roush
Echo Roush

At MSUB, students often rave about the school’s culture.

"I think it’s amazing," said Roush. "All the students and staff, they come together. There’s a lot of support."

But that support was put to the test Tuesday morning after the false warning was issued.

"We did have one student that did stop everybody and we said a prayer," Roush reflected. "And that was just like an instant peace came over."

An email notification of an active shooter on campus was sent to students and staff shortly after 9 a.m.

False threat sent out via email and announced via intercom
False threat sent out via email and announced via intercom

Roush was in forensic psychology class when a terrifying intercom announcement was made following the notification:

"A student did say to the professor, ‘Can you stop? We got an alert that the campus is going to be locked down.'" Roush said. "A few moments after that, over the intercom, (they said) ‘Shots fired on campus.’ So that’s an instant scare."

BPD on-scene at MSUB
BPD on-scene at MSUB

Roush said the moments that followed were pure chaos.

"We were all scrambling to one area of the room. Some of the classmates are barricading the door. And you hear thumping and other sounds that sound like gunshots," said Roush. "So we were scared."

But it turned out to be a false alarm.

According to the Billings Police Department, someone was reported to have made a threat online directed at the campus, and officers are investigating. The report of a threat of an active shooter, however, was incorrect and caused by an error in the school's messaging system, according to police. No one was injured, and no one was threatened on campus, according to Billings police.

"It’s definitely something to be worried about,” said Hayden Taylor, a nursing student at MSUB, on Tuesday.

Hayden (left) Meredith (left-center) Lydia (right-center) Thomas (right)
Hayden (left) Meredith (left-center) Lydia (right-center) Thomas (right)

MTN News reached out to MSUB officials requesting an interview, which they denied, but the university sent the following statement via email:

"Today, our campus faced an unfounded threat, and we are grateful to report that through the swift and coordinated efforts of multiple agencies, we successfully ensured the safety and security of our campus communities.

During the unfolding of this incident, the initial alert from the emergency notification system included a pre-populated message inaccurately reporting an active shooter situation. The misinformation was later clarified.

It is important to note that the emergency notification system accomplished the intended goal of having students and employees take immediate action. A full review of pre-populated messages is underway to ensure the clarity and accuracy of information provided in future alerts."

BPD investigating on-scene at MSUB
BPD investigating on-scene at MSUB

While students are grateful it was simply a false alarm, many are frustrated over the school’s communication. They hope if a situation like this happens again, it will be handled differently.

"Just having extra precautions, just making sure they know for sure what’s going on before letting students get scared and in a frenzy," said Roush. "We’re going to be scared for a little bit. I think we can come together and just push through this. We're MSUB strong."