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Groundhog hunter causes Penn State lockdown

August 12, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

MONT ALTO, Pa. -- A man seen carrying a rifle prompted Penn State Mont Alto to lock down its buildings Thursday for about a half-hour until Pennsylvania State Police told campus officials the man was hunting groundhogs.

Penn State Mont Alto spokeswoman Kristie Fry said the school used "PSU text" to notify people by cell phone, Facebook and Twitter. The school also sent out mass e-mails using internal lists.

Students were included in notifications. Although classes don't start for another week, a few students have been on campus in recent days getting ready for the start of the academic year, Fry said.

At 1:45 p.m., police notified campus officials they were "looking for a man in full camouflage with a rifle," Fry said.

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"He was hunting groundhogs (in a wooded area), but he became disoriented when he came afield," Trooper Tom Pinkerton said.

The man sought the help of residents to find his way to a relative's house nearby, he said.

"He knocked on a couple doors trying to ask them directions, trying to get from where he was to where he needed to go," Pinkerton said.

The residents notified police, he said.

A trooper quickly found the man, who was wearing a fluorescent orange hat, and determined he was legally permitted to possess a firearm, Pinkerton said.

"There was no crime committed," he said, saying charges won't be filed.

Pinkerton declined to identify the man.

Penn State's notification worked as it should, and a "campus is safe" message followed the initial one, according to Fry.

"We were notified at 2:15 they had talked to the suspect and everything was OK," she said.

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