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After missile alert mistake, UH students ran for cover and hid in classrooms

(Image: Danielle Brown) (Image: Danielle Brown)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa say a missile alert mistake Saturday morning caused widespread panic across campus.

Austin Coleman, a junior at the school, said he got the alert on his smartphone and immediately ran to wake up his roommates. 

"I banged on their door and said, 'Guys, get up! For real! We've got to get out of here!'" he said. "We already know we have only 15 minutes."

Coleman's roommate, sophomore Luke Clements, says they started calling loved ones and packing up belongings. 

"First instinct was to jump out of bed and figure out what was going on. I got a bag and threw my water and some food in it," Clements said. 

The roommates decided to leave their dorm. They recall seeing fear in people's eyes once they were outside. 

"We're coming down outside of Frear (Hall) and see people running past us. There was a group of people crying," said Clements. "I saw people on the road just running in the middle of the road."

They sprinted from their dorm at Frear Hall to Bilger Hall, where they remember seeing a yellow sign designating a fallout shelter. 

"When we got there, the doors were locked and closed. And everyone was freaking out. Everyone was on their phones like, 'What do we do? Where do we go?" said Coleman. 

The roommates say there was someone in their group who said they had a key to one of the classrooms in the Marine Sciences building, so everyone ran there. 

"It just kept filling up and filling up and filling up. People were screaming, 'You have to shut the doors! Time's running out!' There were at least 200 plus people in there. It was getting hard to breathe. It was just a recipe for disaster if the missile did hit," said Coleman. 

Coleman and Clements say they stayed in that classroom until the all clear was given. 

Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman the UH Manoa, says the fallout shelter signage at Bilger Hall -- and others on campus -- are from the Cold War era. He says those are no longer fallout shelters -- and the signs are old and scheduled to be removed. 

He also says the university is working to identify specific shelter locations on campus for its students. 

The university says it sent an email to students back in October providing them with guidance on what to do in the unlikely event of a nuclear missile attack. 

U.H. Manoa officials want to remind students that there are counselors on campus 24/7, and residence hall staff are checking in with students following the missile threat mistake. 

Meisenzahl encourages all its students to sign up for emergency alerts on their smartphones.


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