Shots were fired Friday near the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and campus police cleared the scene in less than an hour after they were unable to locate the shooter.
UF shared news of the shots on Twitter at 3:22 p.m., minutes later adding that the incident was “not an active shooter” situation. University police said the man was practicing target shooting and called off a search for him about 4:05 p.m.
“Like all of you, I am relieved that the reports this afternoon of shots being fired in a wooded area near the College of Veterinary Medicine turned out to be an individual conducting target practice,” UF police Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick said in a statement. “There was no active shooter, and there were no injuries.”
Via UF’s Twitter account, she added that the case will be taken over by Gainesville Police Department, as the incident happened off campus.
UF described the man as a 5-foot-9 white male with blue eyes and short curly hair, believed to be in his 20s and armed with a 9mm handgun. He had been seen in a wooded area behind the veterinary school, wearing a grey shirt, khaki pants and a leather bracelet on his right wrist.
It is unclear how university police determined that the shots were part of target practice. Some who responded to UF’s tweets about the incident appeared frustrated by the university’s response.
“But like ... how do we know he was target practicing if there is no suspect to confirm it?” Kaye Juls asked.
Others criticized UF for not clarifying earlier that the incident was not an active shooting.
“SUCH poor relation of information on this one @UF,” Megan O wrote. “UNACCEPTABLE in terms of situation management.”
Stump-Kurnick said UF sent the original tweets “out of an abundance of caution during a rapidly developing situation."
“The goal ... is to make the community aware as quickly as possible of potential threats so that individuals can use their best judgment and take the best course of action for their own protection,” she added. “We will continue to be vigilant and relay information to you as quickly as possible, because your safety is our No. 1 goal.”