Classes are back in session today at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, after the school went on lockdown for several hours Wednesday because an employee reported seeing a man carrying a possible handgun.
Extra security will be on the campus today.
There is no word of any arrests in the case. Police said they were looking for a white male between the ages of 30 and 40 with long, blond hair. The Hickory police chief said earlier the man also was wearing a backpack.
There also were no immediate reports of gunfire or injuries.
The lockdown was initiated after a college employee reported seeing the man walking toward CVCC's East Campus building on U.S. 70 SE around 9:20 a.m. The employee said the man was carrying what appeared to be a handgun, college and police said in a joint statement.
The employee contacted campus security, who notified a sheriff's deputy. The Catawba County Sheriff's Office and Hickory police then were asked to respond. Other emergency agencies also provided assistance.
Authorities said both of CVCC's campuses in Hickory, along with a nearby daycare facility, were put on lockdown as a precaution. Law enforcement officers searched classrooms to look for the suspect.
The college began allowing students and faculty to leave the college just before noon Wednesday. Everyone had been evacuated by 3 p.m., though not before the college cancelled its afternoon and evening classes for the day.
In a statement, CVCC President Garrett Hinshaw said the incident showed the importance of people prepared for crisis situations.
"I want to commend law enforcement for their quick and effective response to a situation that could have been disastrous on our campus," Hinshaw said. "We were able to secure and evacuate approximately 5,000 people without injury."
Staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed