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Armed Assault In UMass Amherst Dorm Triggers Campus Lockdown

University of Massachusetts Amherst Police Chief Tyrone Parham speaks with reporters about the campus-wide lockdown that was ordered after an armed assault in a residence hall.

A University of Massachusetts Amherst student was assaulted in a residence hall Thursday night by two men, at least one of whom was armed with a handgun. The assault resulted in what is believed to be the first campus-wide lockdown in the history of the UMass flagship campus. No shots were fired during the incident.

Students, faculty and staff were instructed via text message and campus loudspeaker announcements to shelter-in-place shortly after the assault was reported to campus police just before 5:30 p.m.  The all clear was issued about 2 hours later after campus police determined that the two assailants had left the campus and that the attack on the student was not random.

UMass Amherst Police Chief Tyrome Parham at a news conference late Thursday night said the student male victim was being treated at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton for a head laceration. He did not release the student’s name, age, or hometown.

He said the suspects were identified as white men, college aged, but are not believed to be students at UMass.

Parham said the assault remains under investigation, and he said a motive had not been determined, but he did not rule out the possibility that the violence grew out of a dispute over a drug deal.

The lockdown caused alarm on the campus of 30,000 students and triggered panicky phone calls to campus police from parents as news of the incident was flashed on media from Springfield to Boston.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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