Manhunt locks down Kent campus

KENT – Kent State University and Kent police spent several hours searching door to door for an unidentified man who fired a single shot into the ground in the direction of Bowman Hall, 850 University Esplanade, at approximately 8:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Around midnight, Eric Mansfield, the university’s spokesman, reported that Kent police had apprehended a suspect off campus, saying only that he was found in Portage County.

“It’s been well reported there was blood at the scene. Police believe there was only one gunman and he has been arrested. I can’t release the details, but there was blood at the scene,” Mansfield said.

Early in the evening, Mansfield made it clear, “No one was hurt. Students were told to shelter in place and stay in their rooms.”

The suspect was described as a black male, wearing basketball shorts and carrying a silver handgun.

Mansfield said specific details about the shooter will be addressed at a news conference this morning and thanked students and media for cooperating during the investigation, noting 10 agencies worked together to protect those on campus.

Social media lit up around 9 p.m. as campus officials sent text messages to order a shelter in place. Students tweeted about being on lockdown and posted photos of police armed with rifles searching Bowman Hall and the university’s business administration building.

“Shots fired literally right near my dorm. They have us locked down so tight we cant even open up our doors…,” tweeted Sydney Bachochin just before 10 p.m.

By 11 p.m., police reported that the campus was clear and everyone had been evacuated from the business administration building and Bowman Hall.

Katie Chilson, 19, who grew up in Bloomfield, was in dance class on the other side of campus when the shot was fired near Bowman Hall.

“When we were about to leave the dance class at about 9 p.m., we learned we could not leave,” Chilson said. “The campus was on lockdown. We had to remain there for about an hour and a half.”

Chilson said they were receiving texts from the school and they were listening to scanner traffic to keep up with what was happening.

“I was not afraid,” she said. “It was pretty far away. I think the Kent and the Kent State police did a good job.”

Lauren Cupkovic, a student from Parma whose apartment is across from Bowman Hall, said she entered her apartment just moments before police arrived on the scene.

“I heard the sirens going off,” Cupkovic said. “Usually the sirens are for tornado warnings, but they were on for a long time.”

Cupkovic described receiving the first of several text alerts that there was a shot fired by Bowman Hall.

She described seeing from her apartment’s window the flashing lights of police cars as they searched the campus grounds.

In a news conference on campus just before 11 p.m., University President Dr. Lester A. Lefton said, “These things are just an unfortunate thing that happens in today’s society, but the campus does all it can to keep students safe.”