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Catawba Valley Community College classes back in session

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

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