Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker on the Lismore Campus.
Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker on the Lismore Campus. Marc Stapelberg

How uni boss reacted when told: 'Possible shooter on campus'

"WE have the possibility of a shooter on campus".

Those were the words Southern Cross University Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker received over the phone as he was driving while Lismore campus went into lockdown on Tuesday.

Staff and students were forced to stay indoors for four hours after police had received a call from a man who was threatening he had a gun and was at the Lismore campus.

Despite trying to return to campus, Mr Shoemaker was forced to set up his own command centre at the Gold Coast campus in order to help control the situation in Lismore.

Less than a month after the campus had run a practice drill for this very scenario, Mr Shoemaker said everything ran as smoothly as it could, with police trying to confirm whether the threat was real.

 

Vice chancellor talks about lock down: Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker reacts to lock down.
Vice chancellor talks about lock down: Southern Cross University vice chancellor and president Professor Adam Shoemaker reacts to lock down.

"We found out a phone call had been received, it was quite an extensive and detailed and threatening phone call which implied there was potential for physical harm on this campus perpetrated by more than one person," Mr Shoemaker said.

"In those situations, the police took it absolutely seriously, and so did we, and therefore everything rolled into action immediately."

Mr Shoemaker said all three SCU campuses had an emergency plan that could be enacted in the slightest moment, but he had hoped they'd never have to put it into action.

"It's not the kind of thing you're 100 per cent prepared for, but in this situation the advice and the readiness and speed was very important," he said.

"In a matter of minutes, they'd set up a control site where the security headquarters was, and it went from there at that point.

"As soon as that decision to call the lockdown was made and the warning sound was used, it all just happens immediately."

Mr Shoemaker thanked the resourcefulness of the staff, students and community at large.

"Everybody just lifted brilliantly together, the Lismore spirit was on show," he said.

Police are continuing their investigation into this troubling incident.