At 11 a.m. on Friday morning, the Minneapolis Police Department received a chilling 911 call. A security guard on the 10th floor of the Retek Building at 50 South 10th Street, next to Target Corporation Headquarters said they heard something that sounded like gunshots.
In the next minutes, police officers swung into action and tenants of the Retek and neighboring buildings implemented security plans. With some doors locked or guarded by police, and with workers asked to remain away from windows and inside their offices, thousands were stuck, including residents of Southwest Minneapolis.
Rama Hart, a professor at the University of St. Thomas' downtown campus, was one of them.
"I hoped it was a false alarm," Hart told Patch in an email on Friday, adding she "was reminded of the list of workplace shootings that seems to have grown over the past decade."
Still, she said, she was glad that the school had tested its emergency alert system only recently.
Along with a graduate assistant who had met her for what was supposed to have been a working lunch in the school's cafeteria, she hunkered down in her office to wait.
"I'm a bit of a rule-follower," she said, explaining why she stayed put. "You never know these days, so it is really better to be safe than sorry."
Meanwhile, according to a written statement released by Minneapolis police, commanders sent SWAT and K-9 teams to sweep the 11-story tower for the reported shooter. For over an hour, many waited nervously for news of the teams' progress.
"We checked KARE-11 and MPR and felt a little jumpy if we heard any noises in the hall," Hart wrote. "Needless to say, we got very hungry waiting. I realized I needed to keep more food handy!"
Even though their building wasn't the source of the gunshot report, the incident had a personal dimension for Hart. A little less than 10 years ago, she said, people she knew had been targeted and injured in a shooting at her alma mater, Case Western Reserve University . In that incident, a former student killed one, injured two, held 90 hostage, and took on police in a three-hour gun battle.
But a mass shooting, this wasn't, and the sweeps found nothing. While police are still looking into the incident, a statement released by department spokesperson Sgt. Steven McCarty said that initial investigations suggest maintenance workers using a tool that “mimicked the sound of gunfire” had spooked the security guard who made the initial call.
It wasn't until after 1 p.m., when police gave the all-clear, that Hart and her co-worker finally were able to leave for lunch.
"The news reports were saying they couldn't find anything. So, at about 1 p.m. we headed down to get some food," she told Patch. "The fact that it was a false alarm was reassuring, and honestly, not surprising."