UT Police investigate 'non-credible' shooting threat on campus

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee Police Department investigated a "non-credible" threat on campus Monday.

A university representative said the department was made aware of a social media rumor about a possible shooting threat on the Knoxville campus. Officers checked into the incident and determined it was a non-credible threat.

Officials with the university held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss "how the dissemination of unsubstantiated threats through social media can create unnecessary panic and concern within the community."

UTPD's Troy Lane said four people originated Monday's rumor that spread quickly across social media platforms before police were notified.

Authorities said one UT student was having a Snapchat conversation with someone not identified as a student about a cartoon and speculation about who could carry out a shooting. The person who was not a student allegedly reached out to another person about the conversation, who then told a UT student about it. Police said they were flooded with calls after the story went viral.

Lane said many students heard an embellished story about a possible shooting at the student union allegedly planned for noon that authorities started investigating at around 10:30 a.m.

UTPD said information on possible threats needs to be brought to their attention.

"We should've known about it sooner. We probably could've avoided all this," Lane said.

University officials did not send out a safety notice or place any buildings on lock down for Monday's non-credible threat. UTPD said they reserve safety notices like text and email alerts for real situations.

UTPD advised students who hear about threats to immediately call police and make sure they are safe. UTPD's emergency line is 865-974-3111. The non-emergency line is 865-974-3114.

Students can sign up for campus alerts here.