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Suspect In Custody After UNH Lifts Lockdown

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WEST HAVEN — The University of New Haven was placed under lockdown on Tuesday after someone reported seeing a gunman on campus; the third such lockdown of a college campus in Connecticut in the past month.

Unlike the previous two lockdowns, however, a man was arrested on the UNH campus carrying two loaded handguns, and police found a rifle and ammunition magazines in his vehicle.

The man was identified by West Haven police as William Dong, 22, of 1336 Stratfield Road inFairfield. Dong is a UNH commuter student, police said.

The campus was put on lockdown at 12:45 p.m. after a customer at a Shop Rite in the nearbyNew Haven Plaza on Campbell Street called police and said they’d seen a man with a rifle get out of a car and begin walking toward the university campus.

Dong was taken into custody a short time later a few blocks from there on the UNH campus, police said. Dong was in possession of two loaded handguns, but did not threaten the officers or resist arrest, police said.

Police located a rifle and ammunition magazines for a rifle in the car Dong parked in the Shop Rite parking lot: a blue Toyota Rav 4. The car was later towed from the lot by police.

Dong was issued a pistol permit by Fairfield police in April 2013 and has two legally registered weapons, said Sgt. Suzanne Lussier.

“Obviously that doesn’t extend to long guns or a shotgun,” she said. Permits are not required for long guns.

Dong remains in custody but criminal charges have not yet been determined, police said. He is a registered student at the university but does not live on campus.

“Detectives are going through his background with a fine-toothed comb,” said Sgt. David Tammaro of the West Haven police.

Meanwhile, Fairfield police were searching Dong’s parents’ residence on Stratfield Road for any other weapons, Lussier said.

A “shelter in place” order remained in effect after the suspect was taken into custody. A “methodical search is taking place,” the school reported on Twitter.

The shelter-in-place order was lifted for the North Campus and the South Campus around 3:30 p.m. and for all areas around 5:15 p.m. Evening classes have been cancelled, the school reported.

“The threat is contained,” said Tammaro.

“We don’t know why he was carrying those weapons,” Tammaro said.

The school initially announced the emergency on its Facebook page:

“West Haven Police Department has reported an Asian male near South Campus with what appears to be a rifle,” the announcement states. “Shelter in place and await further instruction.”

Part of Campbell Avenue was shut down, and police were stopping cars in the area. Officers from area departments, some with bomb-sniffing dogs, arrived in the area. Police were conducting a building to building search on campus.

State police and the FBI were helping with the search.

Carrigan School at 2 Tetlow St. and Forest School at 95 Burwell Road, both in West Haven, were put in “stay in place” mode, a school official said. That order was later lifted.

Brooke Martins, an 18-year-old UNH student from Andover, was in her room in the Bixler Hall dormitory when she got an alert at 12:45 p.m., she said.

“We were told to stay locked down, make sure doors were locked, stay away from windows,” she said. “At first we all freaked out, but we know it’s safe here.”

Martins said she and her roommates could see police searching the area with dogs.

Joseph Wilson, a lecturer in history and global studies, said that he was just beginning an anthropology lecture when the class received the notice to shelter in place.

Wilson said at first there was tension, but that dissipated as it became apparent that there was no more threat. He said he saw no evidence of panic on the campus.

“There are lots of criminal justice students on campus so there were cool heads,” Wilson said.

From the Hartford Courant.

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