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Reported gun-toting man on USF campus likely had cell phone, wallet in his hand

TAMPA — What looked like a pistol may have actually been a wallet and cell phone.

That's the current theory of police at the University of South Florida, based upon an interview with a man they think was mistakenly reported as someone carrying a gun on campus Thursday.

USF police Lt. Meg Ross said the investigation is active and officers are not yet confirming the man's claim. But evidence so far shows the incident was probably an innocent mistake.

"We feel it's pretty likely, however people should always be vigilant," Ross said. "We don't want to determine this is him prematurely."

Police scoured the northeast area of campus around 4 p.m. Thursday after three 911 calls alerted them to an armed man in a "Go Greek" shirt. Texts were sent warning the campus community to stay away from the area, which is known as Greek Village.

But when police had not found anything by 5:30 p.m., they ended the search.

Ross could not say how detectives found the man, whose identity was not released. But police generally listen to witness accounts and review video footage during an investigation.

She said the man acknowledged he was in the area at the time, and said he was the only person nearby. But he was grasping a black wallet and cell phone, he said, not a pistol.

Ross said the public should always report suspicious behavior, but hoped the update would alleviate some of the worries of parents and students.

Staff writer Steven Overly can be reached at soverly@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3435.

Reported gun-toting man on USF campus likely had cell phone, wallet in his hand 06/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 8:21pm]
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