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Student Charged In CCSU Gun Scare That Prompted Lockdown

Friends: 21-Year-Old Was Wearing Halloween Costume

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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Central Connecticut State University student who prompted a campus lockdown after being spotted carrying a sword and what appeared to be a handgun has been charged.

But the student’s mother told the Hartford Courant the incident was a misunderstanding, and friends of the senior said the samurai outfit he was wearing was his Halloween costume.

David Kyem, 21, of Newington, Conn., has been charged with breach of peace and was expected to be released Monday night on $1,000 bail bond, the university said. Kyem is the son of a geography professor at the university.

Two other people were taken into custody late Monday afternoon. It was unclear Monday night if they were still being held.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, university police Chief Chris Cervoni said there was no real threat to any of the students.

“It possibly could have been a Halloween costume,” Cervoni said. “That’s what we’re looking into.”

No weapon had been recovered as of late Monday afternoon, but police had not completed their search of the James Hall dormitory, from which the people now in custody were led away.

Following the arrests, a frantic mother found herself unable to hold her emotions in check at the sight of her son walking off the campus. Like many on Monday, she had feared the worst.

“I was scared. I was scared out of my mind,” said the woman, Sherri V. “You hear about everything going on in the world, and you hear about all the shootings and everything. You just never know what’s going to happen.”

During the chaotic scene, school was placed on lockdown and warnings were issued for students to stay away from windows as police SWAT teams swarmed the area, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

The university declared a campus emergency and an hour later, its website continued urging students to remain inside buildings.

“Emergency situation remains. Shelter in place. Police continue to search for suspicious person,” the message said.

Central Connecticut State University emergency warning (CCSU.edu)

Central Connecticut State University emergency warning (CCSU.edu)

For 90 grueling minutes, no one seemed to know precisely what was happening at the sprawling campus south of Hartford. There were glimpses out windows of armed police officers and law enforcement robots.

With the school on lockdown, 12,000 students got the word to find shelter.

“I got an email alert, and also a phone call, from the state — from the university — saying, ‘Do not go in, or if you do, lock all doors,’” said sophomore A.J. Catalla.

“My daughter texted me. She was in lockdown in her class, so she texted to tell me that they had a suspect on campus in camo gear, and a gun and a sword,” said Sheryl Ross.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through,” said student Kaylene Sylvain.

“No one really knew how to react to the siren. Everyone was just like, ‘What do we do?’” added Nicole Sylvain.

“What I heard from her is that there was a suspect with a gun and a sword — on her floor,” said Christine Rojas, a student’s aunt. “We’re all worried. That’s why we’re here.”

The area around a 400-student dorm was the focus of the police search, but by mid-afternoon, authorities were allowing students to leave the building in small groups.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman, said university police asked for assistance related to a report of a suspicious person. A road leading onto campus was closed.

“Somebody was seen either with a gun or was thought to have a gun,” University spokesman Mark McLaughlin said.

Finally, pictures began to circulate of a man in handcuffs being led away. The situation began to relax, and fear turned to gratitude.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the incident.

“I want to commend state and local law enforcement for their quick response. While there was no act of violence today, the actions taken once these reports came in are exactly why it is so important to say something if you see something,” Malloy said in the statement. “Unfortunately, incidents like these will occur, but today showed us the ideal way for them to conclude – with no one seriously harmed.”

More than 12,000 students attend the university outside Hartford, which has a 182-acre campus. Classes were canceled for the rest of the day.

Two New Britain schools near the campus were also locked down as a precaution, according to the superintendent’s office.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)