Fenway schools all-clear after lockdowns

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Fenway schools all-clear after lockdowns




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By Patrick Burgard, managing editor

At least three Fenway-area schools entered a temporary state of lockdown this afternoon after an individual mistook a loud banging noise for gunshots at Simmons University.

Simmons alerted students, faculty and staff of a threat on campus via text message, warning students to stay inside or away from campus.

“Active threat on campus. If on campus, barricade door & hide. Avoid windows. Run, if option. Avoid campus. Wait for instructions,” the text message read.

Emmanuel College and Boston Latin School also entered temporary states of lockdown, while the Northeastern University Police Department issued a campus-wide NU ALERT advising students to avoid the area.

Boston police, fire and emergency medical services arrived on scene shortly after the message went out. The Boston Police Department, or BPD, gave the all-clear at 3:09 p.m., according to a Simmons University statement, but did not allow anyone to enter campus until about 3:30, at which point all three schools ended their lockdowns.

“No shots fired. We were on scene investigating a call for shots fired, but when we got on scene we realized that there were no shots fired,” said Officer Maisha Miraj, a BPD spokesperson.

Miraj did not offer any clues as to what caused the panic, but multiple local news outlets have reported that the loud bangs were actually the sound of popping balloons.

Simmons University Public Safety officials declined to comment.

Maria Tinoco, a recruiter for Penn State Berks who was at Boston Latin to conduct business, said everything seemed normal on campus but very quickly took a turn for the unusual.

“I didn’t see anything random other than a regular high school dismissal,” Tinoco said. “I just came out two seconds before the police came. They came out with machine guns from their cars and I just ran to the trees.”

Hongmei Dou, a nursing student at Simmons, was near the school’s library at the time the alert went out.

“I was with a group of girls. We all went into the library and hid under tables,” Dou said. “Some of us went into the bathroom. The cops came in and found us and let us out.”

Gabe Arato, a Simmons graduate, said he received the text message alert and left work early to go check on his wife, who works at the university.

“I contacted her and she notified me that they were in lockdown. That’s when we started getting active threat messages that were basically saying ‘hide, barricade doors, stay away from windows, run if you can,’” Arato said. “It really puts it into perspective how scary this is when it happens someone you care about versus seeing it on the news. I’m just relieved she’s OK.”