Order and normal routine has been restored to Manchester Community College after a report of an armed man on campus forced it into lockdown Wednesday afternoon.
According to a press release issued Wednesday night by the Manchester Police Department, a student at the school reported seeing what was believed to be a man with a gun. The witness described the person to be a heavy-set Hispanic male, about 5-feet-8 to 5-feet-10 in height, wearing a red short-sleeved shirt.
After hours of lockdown and searching rooms at both MCC and the adjoining Great Path Academy High School, no suspect was found and tthe incident is still under investigation.
Manchester police also said that during the course of searching the buildings, one officer suffered an injury to the foot when a weapon was accidentally discharged. The officer — neither his name nor further details have been released — was immediately rushed to Hartford Hospital.
“I was in the hallway, the police came running in, [with guns] looked like AK-47’s, yelling at everyone to get out of the buildings,” said Tim Lukawicz, a Manchester Community College student.
Lukawicz, who was in the hallway when police entered the building, said there were 10 to 15 officers who ordered those closest to the exits to leave and all others to remain in their classrooms or to get into the nearest room and lock the door.
Speaking from the campus by telephone soon after the lockdown was implemented, college President Gena Glickman said that students and faculty were to remain sheltered on campus until police swept the area and cleared all the buildings.
“They are going from classroom to classroom,” said Glickman, who was also on lockdown in a secure location at the time of the interview. “We had a [emergency drill] practice a couple weeks ago. So this went pretty smooth.”
G. Duncan Harris, dean of academic affairs, advised all students to stay off campus until further notice. All Wednesday classes and events after 2 p.m. were canceled.
MCC freshman Dylan Piacenta was walking in the hallway when the lockdown was announced. She had just gotten out of class.
“At first I didn’t process what was going on until I saw the cop cars outside,” she said, standing outside the building for her friends to pick her up. “We sat in a file cabinet room with 20 other people, sitting there waiting to see what would happen.”
Piacenta said as she walked down the hallway, she was called to get into the room by nearby teachers. When police got to the room she was in, they checked all of their bags and pockets before they could leave.
Other students and faculty reported being cloistered in bathrooms, kitchens and other secure rooms.
From the perimeter of Great Path, students were seen leaving the classrooms walking one behind the other with their hands raised above their heads and out the front entrance, escorted by faculty and police.
By about 3:30 p.m., Great Path Academy — the magnet high school on the MCC campus — had been cleared and students were meeting their parents at nearby Patriot Park. Police were also working on clearing the campus day care center.
One man, Javier Filigrano, has three children and a niece in Great Path. He waited for them outside in the cold wind as each one of them left the building separately.
On the opposite side of campus, the process went well into the evening, as most cars remained in the campus’ West Side parking lot while police continued to secure the area.
The college’s police officers are not armed.
Manchester Community College is awaiting approval from the Board of Regents to move forward with purchasing guns for its police officers in the very near future. Glickman said the purpose is to speed up the response time if an incident does happen on her campus.