A college student sent the small community of Wise, Virginia into a panic Wednesday night by falsely reporting the existence of an active gunman on campus.
The hoax, which affected the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, was then misreported by multiple national news outlets, including CNN and Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren.
The student called 911 shortly after 9 p.m. to alert authorities to the presence of a gunman on campus, prompting police to initiate a search for the suspect. The university’s website was temporarily replaced with a message to students: “The college is currently in a lockdown due to an alleged gunman on campus. Find a safe place and stay put! Lock all doors until further notice!”
Word of the gunman spread quickly via Twitter. Several terrified students tweeted that they had turned out their lights and fled to other buildings. Some asked for prayers.
But shortly before 11 p.m., the university website updated the alert and announced that the lockdown was over. The student who reported the gunman confessed to making up the story, according to police.