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UPDATE: UVa-Wise student charged in fake gunman report

Steve Igo • Jan 23, 2013 at 9:58 AM

UPDATE: 10:20 a.m.

WISE -- A 20-year old student at The University of Virginia's College at Wise faces at least two charges as a result of the Wednesday night hoax that prompted a lockdown of the college and two hour scramble by a small army of police officers and sheriff's deputies.

Bryant Hairston of Martinsville was charged with falsely summoning a police officer and obstruction of justice and held without bond, Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins said Thursday.

Hairston was taken into custody and appeared before a magistrate late Wednesday. Hairston allegedly reported a gunman on the campus at around 9 p.m. Wednesday, prompting a heavy response from a number of municipal police departments, the Wise County Sheriff's Department and Virginia State Police.

After a two hour lockdown of the campus and search of the buildings and grounds, Hairston allegedly admitted the incident was a hoax.


WISE — The University of Virginia’s College at Wise was placed on lockdown Wednesday night after a report of a man carrying a gun was received by campus and local police, sending a tremor of fear throughout the community.

But after about two hours of the campus and all buildings getting searched by campus police and Wise County Sheriff’s deputies, the incident was determined to be false.

“We just found out it’s a hoax,” Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said at around 11 p.m. Police are now focusing the investigation on a male student of the college who made the initial report, sending deputies scrambling to the campus and causing a late night stir across the region.

“We’re under lockdown,” UVa-Wise spokeswoman Kathy Still said at around 10:15 p.m. “That means everybody stays put. The campus police and the (Wise County) Sheriff’s Office are searching. Searching everywhere.”

At around that same time Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said the call went out at around 9 p.m. and involved an alleged sighting of a man carrying a handgun seen at or near one of the college dormitories. He said his deputies and campus police officers were scouring the campus.

“A student called from Culbertson Hall, and reported seeing a man wearing sweatpants, a ski mask and carrying a pistol,” Oakes said. “We’ve got the campus on lockdown and we’re checking every room. Our deputies talked to the student (who reported the alleged gunman) and he was pretty scared, so we feel it’s valid right now. We’re doing everything we can to make a determination.”

The college website featured a terse warning to students, faculty and staff that the “college is currently in lockdown due to an alleged gunman on campus. Find a safe place and stay put! Lock all doors until further notice!”

But at around 11 p.m., Oakes said investigators had made the determination that the report was false. There will be legal consequences, he said.

“We don’t have an (identity of the student) to put out there yet, but there is still restitution to take into account, when you consider all the response with our deputies and others,” the sheriff said. “Filing a false report is a violation of law, of course. We’re trying to get all the information we can right now, and we’ll see where we’re at with this in the morning.”

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