Tripod Prompts Lockdown at Sheridan College

When I first heard the news yesterday, that Sheridan College had been locked down because of a gunman, I felt chills run up my spine. Someone from my work had just been sent over to the school to talk about sales, and back at my office we were all concerned. Thankfully it was reported later in the day that there was no attack. Today, however, it's been revealed that the gun sighting that caused a professor to call in the emergency and the subsequent police lockdown was actually... a camera tripod sighting.

The emergency response came about when a professor and eight students reported seeing a suspicious man in camouflage carrying around a "long, tubular object". The police came in and forced students to stay in their classes and dorm rooms until around 4:30pm. Ambulances and emergency vehicles were called in and at the ready, but no gun shots were heard, and no one was hurt. An exhaustive two hour search of the area resulted in the uncovering of no gunman, and no threat.

And today we've learned that this was all triggered by a tripodman, not a gunman.

This got me thinking. Is this level of reaction warranted? Do we need to be so cautious/suspicious/paranoid as to call in the police when a student is seen with a "long, tubular object", that could be a gun, or a tripod, or a document tube, or anything else roughly the same shape and size of a gun (which comes in many different shapes and sizes)?

The fear and quick reaction may have stemmed from the recollection of actual incidents. Attacks that have gone on in other schools and reported by the media (most recently the stabbings at Humberside Collegiate, and on a larger scale, the shootings at Dawson College in Montreal a year and a half ago) may still be fresh on our minds. It also doesn't help that we've experienced the foolish antics of a hoax bomber. But I have to wonder if we're scaring ourselves silly. At what point does reactionary panic surpass common sense?

Sheridan College is known internationally for its animation program, and there are most likely hundreds of students at that school carrying around tripods. Was it the camouflage attire of the tripodman that caused the professor's mind (and the minds of eight other students, we can't forget) to turn directly to the worst case scenario? Clearly, hasty reactions to non-treats sometimes lead to lots of lost time and money, but how could this incident have been handled differently? Should the professor have pursued the tripodman to get a better look at the tripod before calling it a gun?

Although this was another false alarm, I do applaud the school's security and Halton Region police for responding so quickly. It's nice to know that when a threat is perceived, especially in this age of easily acquired firearms and increasingly dangerous schools, response is timely and effective.

Police are still looking for the man that caused the lockdown, and if anyone has any info, they'd like you to call it in to Crime Stoppers. The man is white, around six-feet tall with a medium build, has brown hair with a prominent bald spot and long sideburns. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a lumber style jacket that was possibly green and thin glasses.

Oh, and he may be a videographer or photographer, so watch out. He might take your picture. It's not yet clear exactly what kind of tripod was carrying. I wonder what would have happened had he been carrying around one of these!

Photo by Photosapience, and not an actual photo from the incident.

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