False Alarm: OU Shooting Investigation Began When Man Claimed He Shot His Mother

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Ohio University police said they have found no evidence of a shooting in Gamertsfelder Hall or East Green at the university's Athens campus.

OUPD chief Andrew Powers reported Tuesday that the investigation started when a man called 911 claiming to have shot his mother at 58 East Green Drive in Athens, which is the location of Gamertsfelder Hall, a dormitory.

The man identified himself as "John Jackson" and told the dispatcher that he was off his medications and needed assistance because he had shot his mother and she was bleeding to death, according to Powers.

The university alerted students to the emergency situation via text message at approximately 3:10 p.m. Athens Police and the Ohio Highway Patrol responded to the scene to help OUPD in the investigation.

Powers said he isn't sure that "John Jackson" is even the caller's real name. Powers said it's "too soon to say" whether this incident was an example of someone calling in a fake threat to make authorities rush to a location, otherwise known as "swatting."

OUPD hasn't listened to the original call, which was placed to Brown County emergency services near Cincinnati, Ohio. Brown County emergency services alerted Athens authorities to the call, and the police responded.

Gamertsfelder Hall – where "Jackson" said he had shot his mother – houses approximately 210 students, according to Powers. The police chief commended them for their cooperation in the investigation. 

"Everyone responded very well," Powers said. "The response was well-coordinated."

Powers said OUPD will handle the investigation unless another jurisdiction is involved.

5:18 p.m. Ohio University sent an email alert at 5:17 p.m. and confirmed that "OUPD has finished searching East Green and found no evidence of a shooting or on-going threat.  East Green has been reopened for normal use."

4:40 p.m. Authorities are still reporting that no shooting has been confirmed in Gamertsfelder Hall at Ohio University or surrounding dormitories on East Green. Athens Police and the Ohio Highway Patrol are assisting OUPD with the investigation.

Police are currently leaving the scene on East Green at Ohio University. Authorities have scheduled a 6 p.m. news conference at Baker Center in Athens.

4:20 p.m. Ohio University sent an emergency text alert to all students and faculty at 4:15 p.m. It reads that, "OUPD did not find evidence of a shooting in Gamertsfelder Hall. We are expanding the search to all of East Green. Evacuate and avoid the area."

The full alert, from Ohio University's website:

Ohio University Police did not find any evidence of a shooting during an investigation of a single report of a possible shooting in the vicinity of Gamertsfelder Hall, a residence hall on the East Green of the Athens Campus. There have been no additional reports at this time. Please evacuate and avoid the East Green area. Ohio Highway Patrol and Athens Police are assisting OUPD with the investigation. Ohio University will update information at the top of every hour or sooner and post it to The University is not on lock down and employees are encouraged to avoid the area.

The dean of the Patton College of Education has told faculty members in McCracken Hall – also on East Green – to "leave campus," according to one faculty member.

The university, however, said "Ohio University employees should begin and end their work day according to their normal schedule."

According to WOUB reporters at the scene, police are entering Shively Hall, which is just across the street from Gamertsfelder Hall.

Students are being evacuated completely from the East Green area.

3:20 p.m. Local authorities in Athens are investigating a possible shooting at Gamertsfelder Hall on East Green at Ohio University. No shooting has been confirmed by the university or authorities.

According to Ohio University's official Twitter account, the OU Police Department is on site. Students and residents are reporting that police are evacuating the area.

An Ohio University spokesperson confirmed to The Columbus Dispatch that students were being housed in Gamertsfelder Hall for summer classes.

Students who were in Gamertsfelder Hall were evacuated and moved to another building while police cleared the building. Ohio Highway Patrol is on the scene with rifles providing assistance to local authorities.

A female student who was in the residence hall said police had their guns drawn and asked her if she heard shots or screams. She said no, and the police told her to leave the area immediately.

University workers at McCracken Hall – also on East Green just down the street from Gamertsfelder Hall – are reporting that their building is on lockdown. Also, residents at Bush Hall on East Green also are reporting that they are not being allowed to leave the building.

Jefferson Hill and Morton Hill – which lead to upper parts of campus – are also being closed down.

The university alerted students to the emergency situation via text message at approximately 3:10 p.m. An EMS vehicle was spotted traveling in the direction of the scene about five minutes later.

We have reporters on the scene and will have more information shortly.