Reports of gunshots at Nassau Hall prompted the Princeton Police Department to close the building and search it for two-and-a-half hours Tuesday evening. The reports were ultimately determined to be unfounded, no injuries were reported, and the area was cleared at around 10:25 p.m.
The University did not shut down campus during the incident. Events in buildings nearby were allowed to continue.
The University’s Department of Public Safety received a phone call at 7:55 p.m. from an individual within Nassau Hall who reported hearing gunshots in the building, according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua.
Emily Wibberley ’14 was approaching FitzRandolph Gate in front of Nassau Hall at around 8 p.m. when Princeton police cars pulled up.
“Guys got out with rifles drawn and went onto campus,” Wibberley said. “They were around the gates for a while, and then they walked back in and went into Nassau Hall.”
The University community was first informed of the situation starting at around 8:40 p.m., through the Princeton and Telephone Email Notification System.
The PTENS message alerted the University community of the reports of gunshots at Nassau Hall and instructed everyone to stay away from the building.
The blue light tower speakers were not used to broadcast information on Tuesday night.
DPS created a perimeter around Nassau Hall in accordance with standard University protocol for situations involving firearms. DPS is an unarmed force that includes sworn police officers. Local Princeton police officers armed with rifles entered the building and later issued the all-clear alert.
Several events scheduled in the evening were allowed to continue throughout the two-and-a-half-hour incident without interruption.
The front doors of Frist Campus Center were locked at one point during the search, students in the area said. A concert by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra at Richardson Auditorium, which is located next to Nassau Hall, continued uninterrupted throughout the incident. Those in attendance were allowed to leave the building once it was over.
The University used yellow caution tape to block portions of the perimeter around Nassau Hall.
As the police searched Nassau Hall, lights throughout the building turned on and off, particularly in the president's suite and on the western side of thesecond and third floor.
Students in Firestone Library learned of the incident through the emergency notification communications. Several students on the upper floors descended to the basement floors for safety until they received the all-clear message.
Students attending a lecture by journalist Ezra Klein in Whig Hall, directly behind Nassau Hall, were evacuated into the basement’s building immediately after Klein concluded the question-and-answer portion of his presentation and were told to remain there until receiving an “all-clear” signal. Klein, a Washington Post reporter, stayed with students in the basement, chatting and answering questions until Whig-Cliosophic Society president Matt Saunders ’15 told the basement gathering that DPS officials had told him students should consider parts of the University south of Whig Hall to be clear and safe to move across, according to reporters at the scene.
Police officers from Plainsboro, Lawrence and West Windsor, as well as the Mercer County Sheriff, assisted the Princeton police on site. At least two helicopters were also seen hovering directly above Nassau Hall.
News Editors Patience Haggin and Anastasya Lloyd-Damnjanovic and Managing Editor Emily Tseng contributed reporting.