Armed gunmen on a college campus are never a laughing matter. Except, perhaps, when the “gun” turns out to be a toy light saber.
Long Island college students were forced to awaken to a stressful and frightening situation. Shortly before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16, 911 dispatchers received a call from a woman who claimed that a man was holding what appeared to be an assault rifle in one of the parking lots at Farmingdale State College in Long Island. Police response was said to be “significant,” and according to The Washington Times, a mass email was sent to students and staff.
New York college goes on lockdown after toy lightsaber is mistaken for a rifle https://t.co/3X1W3kvS0D
— TIME.com (@TIME) March 17, 2016
The email read, “Due to a situation on campus, all faculty, staff, and students are advised to shelter in place.”
Students immediately took to Twitter to express their concerns that a fellow student had decided to use force to strike back.
Pull up to Farmingdale to go to my one class and the schools on lockdown dope
— Andrew Barbine (@andrew_barbine) March 16, 2016
Farmingdale is literally under lockdown I'm so scared right now
— giant pissbaby (@walrus_breath) March 16, 2016
So Farmingdale is on lockdown and I'm stuck in the library
— Kaitlyn Tudor (@KaitlynTudor) March 16, 2016
Suffolk County police were able to locate the suspected gunman within a half hour, roughly 11 hours shorter than we waited for a Yoda lightsaber battle. They were able to discern quickly that what the man was handling was not a rifle but instead a plastic Star Wars toy. The lockdown was then lifted and students were given a new hope.
“The police situation on campus has been resolved without incident. All students, faculty, and staff should resume normal activities.” a subsequent email read.
The lightsaber was not confiscated, and no injuries or arrests were reported.
Though this situation was simply a phantom menace, this is not always the case. In October of 2015, a man wearing a Star Wars themed cloak and mask entered Kronan School in Trollhattan, Sweden. Most of the students believed that it was a Halloween prank, as the perpetrator entered through the public entrance and even stopped to pose for photo opportunities. However, Tech Times reports that events took a tragic turn for the worse when the masked man was approached by a teacher’s aide and asked to leave. The assailant remained silent, as he had throughout his time in the school, but pulled a sword and stabbed the aide upwards of 20 times. The man then went on a rampage, stabbing both students and teachers in a spree that left one student and one teacher dead.
The Star Wars themed assailant also lost his life to a gunshot wound that the police officers fired to end the attack. Eerily, the man is even claimed to have exclaimed “I am your father,” at some point in the rampage. A suicide note found on the perpetrator indicated that the loss of his life had been the intent from the outset. The note, as well as shouts from the sword-wielding attacker, indicates that the events were, tragically, racially motivated. Sweden’s Prime Minister referred to the incident as “a black day for Sweden.”
Students and administrators at Farmingdale College are grateful that Wednesday’s lightsaber incident and resulting lockdown were far more benign.
Farmingdale College spokesperson Kathy Stated that the institution was “relieved.”
[Image via Shutterstock]