Three individuals attempting to open and steal from cars in Oxford College’s Haygood Hall parking lot triggered a “shelter in place” alert early Wednesday morning, according to an Emory Police Department (EPD) crime report.
The subjects have not been apprehended as of press time, according to EPD Sergeant John Harper.
EPD Officer Joe Burgess reported noticing three people pulling car door handles on a surveillance camera at 1:15 a.m. After reviewing footage, EPD officers found that the subjects had entered an unlocked a tan Hyundai Sonata belonging to an Oxford student, unlocked the trunk and removed an unknown item from it shortly after 1:14 a.m.
Burgess and EPD Officer Marvin Poulson responded to the scene, but one of the subjects saw Burgess approaching and alerted the other subjects to the officer’s presence.
Burgess drew his firearm and told the subjects to get on the ground. The subjects fled and jumped over the wooden fence at the Maintenance Barn.
EPD contacted Newton County Sheriff’s Office to assist the search of the Maintenance Barn and establish a perimeter around the area. A “shelter in place” alert was issued for Oxford College at 1:26 a.m.
Burgess reported that Poulson told him he believed one of the subjects snuck past him at the rear of the barn and fled into the wooded area, according to the report.
Newton County deputies and EPD officers searched the barn and the parking lot but did not find the subjects. One of the subjects’ black Nike sandals were found in the parking lot and placed into evidence.
At 1:47 a.m., an “all clear” alert was issued for Emory University.
“After the search of the area by our police, with the assistance of Newton County Sheriff’s Department, we felt [confident] the subjects had left the area,” Harper wrote in a Sept. 27 email to the Wheel.
Officers were unable to collect fingerprints due to heavy condensation on the vehicles.
At 1:47 a.m., the same time the “all clear” alert was sent via text message, a siren sounded on Emory’s main campus indicating a tornado warning had been issued for the Emory campus. A voice on the loudspeaker told people to seek shelter and check local news for more information. Local news outlets did not report a tornado approaching the Atlanta area.
“The sirens on the Emory campus were activated in error,” according to a Sept. 27 statement to the Wheel on behalf of Sam Sharter, senior administrator at the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR). “We have determined the root cause of the error and have corrected it.”
UPDATE (9/27/17 at 7:02 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a statement from CEPAR.