SAN MARCOS, Calif. - There were terrifying moments for people on the campus of Cal State San Marcos on Wednesday morning as the university was stormed by law enforcement and temporarily placed on lockdown for more than 30 minutes after reports of a suspicious person armed with a gun on campus.
It turns out, it was only an umbrella. Late Wednesday, 10News spoke with Bill Craig, who has been a staff member at the university for 17 years. He was walking with his umbrella on campus that morning because of the rain.
Little did he know that by the time he got back to his office, his umbrella would have been mistaken for a rifle and lead to a campus-wide lockdown. Craig was held at gunpoint by sheriff's deputies during the lockdown.
"I guess you always think that when someone's pointing a gun at you, you're really going to freak out but I think I was just more focused on doing exactly what the officer said," he told 10News.
Craig was the person – reported as being suspicious – they had been looking for. The person was described as a white male, wearing a black shirt and jeans and walking across campus carrying a rifle.
He says he knew it was him the second the alert went out.
"I was certain," said Craig. "It could have certainly been someone else. I mean, I'm not the only tall, bald guy here, but it fit me to a tee."
At that same time, classrooms began sheltering in place.
"They immediately … the doors locked and then they took all the chairs and all the tables and barricaded the doors," said junior James Collins. "People were kind of freaked out and you could tell that there was a nervous tension."
That rifle someone thought they saw was nothing more than a long black umbrella, as seen in a photo Craig later posted on his Facebook page.
The lockdown was lifted at about 9:35 a.m., about half an hour after the initial report.
Craig was joking about it online, even posting a meme that reads, "I don't always bring an umbrella to work, but when I do, I get cuffed."
"What could you do but find the humor in it, otherwise it was just going to ruin my day, ruin my faith in humanity," he said.
Craig says over the 17 years he has worked at Cal State San Marcos, he has been through several active shooter drills. He says law enforcement on Wednesday handled the situation professionally.