Major Police Operation After Threat Made To University
Southern Cross University and nearby schools in the NSW city of Lismore are slowly being taken out of emergency lockdown.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said a building-by-building procedure was underway to ensure a safe and controlled exit of everyone on campus, the university said in a statement.
Staff and students were being checked by police as a precaution before being allowed to leave campus.
Shoemaker said the university was organising buses to take people to Lismore CBD, Goonellabah and surrounding areas.
"This has been a stressful few hours and I want to thank everyone for their amazing patience and co-operation," he said.
Police remained on the scene more than three hours after the university placed all staff and students on its Lismore campus in lockdown just before 2pm on Tuesday, in response to a threat made via telephone.
NSW Police said there was one phone call made by a male person to a police station, sparking a major police response in conjunction with the university.
The identity of that person is not yet known, police said.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Wayne Humphrey said the conversation was long enough that police negotiators were able to talk with the person for some time.
Humphrey declined to comment on what was said in the phone call but confirmed it was in relation to the use of firearms.
"It's serious enough that armed police came to the location, but there is no credible threat," he said.
"Inquiries will determine whether this was, in fact, an elaborate hoax or whether there was some substance to what occurred," he added.
Police confirmed the lockdown on the university was being lifted as police began clearing sections of the campus that were deemed "at-risk".
There are about 750 people at the university, with police confirming around 200 who were locked down in one area are now being evacuated from campus.
"They understood there was a threat and the best way to deal with that is to let police do their jobs."
Earlier, the university issued a statement via Twitter telling anyone planning on visiting the campus to postpone.
"Our Lismore campus is under emergency lock-down. Police are currently on-site and all students and staff are advised to remain inside until given the all-clear," it said.
NSW Police said there were no injuries and no reports of shots fired.
Earlier, a spokesperson also told 10 daily there was no active shooter situation, despite multiple reports on social media including a series of photos posted on Instagram.
A witness told 10 daily that people in military uniform were also on scene at the university.
Police said it was part of the "tactical response".
A video posted to Facebook appeared to be from a witness at the scene and showed students being escorted out of a building by police, with their hands held over their heads.
The nearby Rivers Secondary College Lismore High Campus was placed in lockdown for several hours.
At around 4:15pm the school said it had been advised by police the lockdown could be lifted, with all students being evacuated to nearby Nielson Park to be picked up by their parents or carers.
A similar message was sent to parents at carers of students at Lismore Public School.
Wyrallah Road Public School shared a message to parents on Facebook saying that all students who walk or ride a bike home will be held at the school until a parent can pick them up. All students travelling home by bus were told it was safe to do so.
"Parents of students who walk home are being contacted by phone," the school said.
A nearby childcare centre 'Blinkys' was also reportedly in lockdown.
Featured Image: AAP