UGA cops swarm law school after mistaken gunman sighting

ATHENS -- University of Georgia police responded with guns drawn to a campus center Thursday, but the report of a gunman there turned out to be false, UGA officials told the AJC.

"You yell ‘gun' on a college campus and you're going to get some police," said campus Police Chief Jimmy Williamson. He said as many as 20 patrolman and detectives, some toting rifles, rushed to the Dean Rusk Center -- part of the law school -- after someone reported seeing a gunman there.

It turns out that people thought they'd seen a former graduate student who allegedly threatened a professor, Williamson said. The alleged threat is being investigated, added the chief. He will not identify the individual unless charges are filed, possibly Friday.

UGA spokesman Tom Jackson told the AJC that police determined that the alleged gunman already was in jail.

They reached that determination after arriving at the law school, Williamson explained. "The one we thought was the gunman wasn't even there," he said."The rifles were out, so I'm sure people might have thought it was a SWAT team."

The chief said the individual who was thought to be a gunman was sitting in jail for violating a bench warrant, meaning he probably failed to appear in court. Williamson said he did not know what charge the person was facing but said it was unrelated to Thursday morning's scare or the alleged threat.

He said he was not bothered that a rumor led to the deployment of his officers. "I'd much rather have that happen than them not call us," he said.