Reports of a gunman entering a residence hall prompted Wittenberg University to text-message students with a security alert but it turned out to be a prank.
Tuesday night’s scare was supposed to be a birthday joke, and the gun fired only soft foam projectiles, police said. But because the gun violated the university’s zero-tolerance policy, five students were taken into custody.
Authorities did not immediately say if charges would be filed.
Police said they received a phone call around 10:15 p.m. from someone saying a man with what appeared to be a gun was going into a residence hall with a group of people.
City and university police surrounded the building and began searching for the group, and the university sent text messages to its students to alert them to the situation.
Wittenberg began the text messaging service after the April shootings at Virginia Tech, where a student killed 32 people before killing himself.
Police quickly found the group with the projectile gun, confiscated it and took four male students and one female student into custody.
A message left for a Wittenberg spokeswoman Wednesday morning was not immediately returned.
Wittenberg is a liberal arts college in southwestern Ohio with a student body of about 2,000.
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