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SLU: Toy gun for class project prompted police incident on campus

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St. Louis Police at SLU on Wednesday, May 3 (KMOV) St. Louis Police at SLU on Wednesday, May 3 (KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The male student who was taken into custody by St. Louis police following an active investigation on St. Louis University's campus that at one point prompted a shelter in place order has been released.

Police are continuing to search for a male student connected with reports of someone seen with a gun. 

St. Louis University officials on Wednesday sent out a campus alert following a report of a suspicious person near Spring Hall. A tweet from the school advised people to stay clear of Spring Hall. The man was said to be wearing a black hoodie and he "may have a hand gun." The school later said shots were fired outside Marchetti East and issued a shelter in place order. No injuries were reported.

Police later said they could not verify shots were fired. The nature of the whole situation remained unclear Wednesday evening.

Officials said in the search for the gunman they found a realistic rubber-band gun in a student's dorm room. It was later discovered that the student made the gun in his aerospace and mechanical class.

"Some were more sophisticated looking than others and the one brought into Spring Hall looked a lot more like a real gun," said SLU spokesperson, Jeff Fowler.

Fowler says the student did the right thing and informed officials. 

SLU officials said all the guns that were made are being collected and will be destroyed. 

The university later released a statement on the incident:

We have confirmed that the toy gun seen in Spring Hall was part of an assignment in the Aerospace and Mechanical “Engineering Manufacturing Procedures” class. The assignment, intended to have students build a working device with interchangeable parts, was to make toy rubber band guns.

The instructor gave the students several options for projects, but says the students unanimously chose to make the rubber band guns. The instructor says he warned the students not to display them out of class. However, at least one student created a very realistic toy gun and openly carried it into his residence hall. This led to today’s alerts and understandable concern and fear on campus.

All of the students who made the rubber band guns are being informed tonight to place the toy guns in a closed container and bring them to the Parks College Dean’s Office first thing tomorrow. All of the toy guns will then be destroyed.

This is the first time toy guns have been made in this class, and it will be the last. The University understands how much anxiety this issue created today and will ensure it does not happen again.

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