Law enforcement apprehended a 16-year-old male suspect Thursday afternoon in connection to a school shooting threat that forced Bismarck State College to go on lockdown for more than four hours.
The suspect was driving north on U.S. Highway 83 when North Dakota Highway Patrol took him into into custody at 4:04 p.m., Bismarck Police Sgt. Mark Buschena said at a press conference. Officials have not yet released the suspect’s name because he has not been charged, though Buschena said he is not a BSC student.
The lockdown went into effect at 11:30 a.m. after the FBI got word that a person posted on Twitter that they planned to shoot up a school library, Buschena said. The FBI traced the phone that sent out the tweet to the BSC campus, he said.
Dozens of law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies swarmed campus buildings searching for suspects. As snowflakes fell and the temperature dropped into the 20s, officers armed with automatic rifles could be seen entering the Library, English and Arts Hall -- one of the newest buildings on campus.
Law enforcement also searched every campus facility, releasing students and staff inside as they cleared each building.
“They did a search of campus going door to door, floor by floor,” Buschena said. “You can imagine it takes quite a while to clear all these buildings.”
BSC, meanwhile, kept students and staff informed via text, phone and email alerts.
“We had received a credible threat from the FBI that a student had threatened to shoot up the library with a machine gun, a picture of which was posted with the threat,” read one of the school’s messages to students.
Officials called a news conference at 4:30 p.m. after many students had left campus in their cars following the all-clear in the buildings where they spent the lockdown.
“It’s a crazy day but it’s behind us now,” BSC President Larry Skogen said as he prepared to talk to reporters.
He said he was unaware of any previous threat to campus of this magnitude but BSC administrators, faculty and staff train to know how to respond to such situations.
“This is the kind of thing that nightmares are made of,” he said. “We are so glad that our students, employees and guests are safe, and that the situation has been resolved safely.”
Buschena said no one was injured in connection to Thursday’s threat. He was unaware of any weapons found on the suspect or in his vehicle when he was apprehended.
During the lockdown, BSC canceled classes for the remainder of the day. Classes are scheduled to resume as normal Friday.