Florida Polytechnic University went into lockdown on Monday evening when a suspect ran away from a car accident nearby. The situation's proximity to the University lead campus police to lock the campus down.
On Monday of April 18th, 2022, at 6:17 P.M., the university’s alert system sent out an announcement that the university was entering a lockdown in place. Students were asked to stay inside and in place while police addressed the situation.
A large pile-up occurred at the southern intersection of SR-33 and I-4 near University Boulevard. According to officials, two suspects from the scene of the pile-up had tried to run away. One suspect didn’t make it far due to their injuries and was immediately arrested. The other suspect ran into the brush, in the direction of the university. Ammunition found on the scene lead the police to say he was possibly armed, though it is unconfirmed if he actually was.
When Florida Poly’s Police Department caught wind of it, they decided to activate lock down procedures. At the time, the exact nature of the incident was unknown to campus police. They knew there was a possibly armed person, but their location wasn’t known, so full lockdown was engaged. A slew of police cars poured in from Highway Patrol, Lakeland Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and our own campus police. They formed a rough perimeter around the area where the suspect was expected to be. The bulk of police cars was situated at the site of the accident, standing by as more police cars dotted themselves along University Boulevard. Several police cars came onto campus, their lights flashing into the IST’s windows. At the dorm windows, several students watched as a helicopter flew in circles overhead, looking for the suspect.
At the time that first announcement was made at 6:17 P.M., many students were not in the dorms. They were elsewhere, such as the IST or the Wellness Center, attending class or having dinner. Suddenly, everyone was being asked not to move, not to leave, and were unsure what the situation truly was. Some students, like the police, thought it may have been an armed gunman on campus. Others assumed it was nothing, maybe even a glitch. Everyone who knew what was happening were nervous. However, many had no idea anything was happening at all. Some professors were completely unaware a lockdown was even happening and continued lecturing or letting their students leave as normal. Staff didn’t stop students from leaving places like the cafeteria or the IST because they hadn’t even been informed there was a situation at all. Several students were outside at the time the announcement happened, and shortly thereafter found that card scanners around campus were no longer functional.
Around 10 minutes after the original announcement, campus police understood more about the situation and made the decision to enter modified lockdown instead, allowing card scanners to be read again. This furthered confusion, both for students trying to understand what was happening and for staff trying to ascertain what they should be telling students to do. At 8:19 P.M., about 2 hours after the original announcement, the all-clear was announced.
It is unclear exactly what happened in the span of that 2 hours. Further reporting will clarify the details of this incident.