Tony Barboza and Paloma Esquivel
The Los Angeles Times
May 20, 2009

Students and teachers at UC Irvine were shaken this afternoon when officials sent out a campus text message saying they were responding to reports of a camouflaged man with a rifle on campus, a report that was later downgraded when police determined it was probably just a student carrying a paintball gun.

[efoods]UCI does have a campus paintball team that meets for practice Wednesday evenings.

After the initial rush of panic subsided, the incident appeared to have served as a test of the campus emergency text-message alert system, which — like many across the country — was set up after the Virginia Tech shootings as an ultra-quick way to alert students to potentially dangerous situations.

Police received a phone call about 1:30 p.m. reporting a suspicious person in beige camouflage possibly carrying a firearm walking toward West Peltason, according to a statement from the university.

Fewer than two hours later, after news of the tip spread quickly across campus via the university’s ZotAlert texting system and Twitter, police said they had detained a student near the campus student center. That person, who was not identified, was known to collect replica guns, but no weapons were found, said campus Chief of Police Paul Henisey.

He was released.

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