NSW university forced into lockdown after ‘threatening call’
A university in NSW was sent into an emergency lockdown following a threatening phone call made by an unknown male.
At about 1.30pm police received a phone call from a male who made a number of threats towards Southern Cross University in Lismore.
As a result the university was sent into lockdown for more than three hours as police carried out a major operation.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Wayne Humphrey said the threats were "in relation to the use of firearms".
"As a result of that call a major police response was initiated in conjunction with the university's security plan and the university was put into lockdown," he told the media.
"I can say at this stage I am comfortable there is no current threat."
He said police were working to determine whether the call was an "elaborate hoax or whether there was some substance to what occurred".
It is unclear exactly what was said on the phone call and the identity of the male who placed it is unknown.
Mr Humphrey said no firearm had been found in relation to the matter and assured the public there is no threat.
Vice Chancellor of Southern Cross University, Professor Adam Shoemaker, said the campus was now being evacuated building by building to ensure a safe and controlled exit of all staff and students.
"The university has organised buses to take people to Lismore CBD, Goonellabah and surrounding areas," he said.
"Before leaving the campus, people will be checked by police as a precaution.
"This has been a stressful few hours and I want to thank everyone for their amazing patience and co-operation.
"I urge everyone to continue to follow police direction."
Staff and students were earlier warned to stay inside and police were urging people to stay away from the area.
"There have been no reports of injury or shots fired," NSW Police said in an earlier statement.
"A police operation is underway involving officers from Richmond Police District and other specialist resources.
"Police are advising the public to avoid the area as the operation continues."
There were early reports that a gunman was on campus but police said these reports were unfounded.
A student at the university, Angus Field, posted to his Instagram account saying "Holy f**k there's a shooter at uni".
He then posted an update claiming it was "two shooters".
Another student, Rhys Harrison, said he was on lockdown with about 60 other people in the university's library and had also heard reports there was a shooter on campus.
"The stress level seems pretty high but no one is panicking," he told the Northern Star.
Another person, Louise Hardman, posted to the newspaper's Facebook page claiming she saw five policemen "with machine guns" heading towards the library region.
"[They were] pointing their guns and using hand signals - freaky!"
Southern Cross University posted a message on its Twitter account confirming that the Lismore campus was in lockdown.
"Our Lismore campus is under emergency lock-down. Police are currently on-site and all students and staff are advised to remain inside until given the all-clear," the tweet read.
"Anyone planning to visit the campus at present should postpone."
Rivers Secondary College Lismore High Campus and a nearby childcare centre were also placed in lockdown as a result of the police operation.
Kylie, a woman that works at the childcare centre, told 2GB's Ben Fordham that they have been in lockdown for about an hour and 40 minutes now.
"We did hear about 40 minutes ago a big bang," she said.
"We don't know whether it was a gun or what it was."
She said an emergency warning came over the speakers telling them to stay inside and go into lockdown.
Parents of children at the high school were informed of the situation via a post by the principal on the school's Facebook page.
"The school is currently in lockdown due to an unfolding matter at the university. Students are safe and the school will remain in lockdown until advised by police," he wrote.
"Please do not attempt to collect your child. We will update you when possible."
Police have reportedly set up road blocks to stop people from getting close to the scene.
More to come.