Shooting threat in Belmont University dining hall resolved, suspect at large

Vanderbilt said there was no ongoing threat to the Vanderbilt community and Campus Dining would not be making any adjustment to their hours or operation.


Rachael Perrotta

Belmont University, as photographed on Sept. 10, 2022. (Hustler Staff/Rachael Perrotta)

Simon Rosenbaum, Staff Writer

UPDATED: This article was updated at 11:50 a.m. on Sept. 30 to reflect comments by Vanderbilt University and Campus Dining.

At around 9 a.m. CDT today, a report of a shooting threat in Belmont University’s Harrington Place Dining Hall caused the closure of the dining hall and a response by Metro Nashville Police. According to Belmont email alerts sent to students obtained by The Hustler, no shots were fired and no one was harmed.

A university representative said that there was no ongoing threat to the Vanderbilt community and Vanderbilt dining determined there was no need to make any adjustment to their hours or operations. 

“This morning, VUPS received a call about an active shooter on Metro Police radio. A few minutes later, they received clarification that this was actually a domestic issue, with no shots fired and no injuries, and that there was no ongoing threat to the Vanderbilt community. As a result, Vanderbilt dining determined there was no need to make any adjustments to their hours,” the university representative said.

Belmont said in the second of two safety alerts sent to students that the incident occurred between a person not affiliated with Belmont and a Belmont cafeteria employee. The email added there is no longer an active threat on campus, which Belmont Campus Security confirmed to The Hustler at 9:41 a.m. CDT.

“While it was originally reported that the individual had threatened to shoot, that information does not appear to be accurate and no weapon was ever seen during the dispute,” the second alert reads.

In the first safety alert, Belmont’s Office of Communications had stated that said the individual who was believed to have threatened to shoot left Belmont driving a black car toward Wedgewood Ave.

The cafe reopened at 9:35 am CDT, but the Belmont Vision reported at 11:02 a.m. CDT that Campus Security is still present at the cafe. A representative of the City of Nashville Media Relations Office spoke with The Hustler on behalf of the Metro Nashville Police Department at 10:20 a.m. CDT.

“An employee of Belmont was involved, and her boyfriend tried to forcibly remove her, and she luckily managed to break away,” the representative said. “The Department of Emergency communication received a call, we were made aware and we responded. Around 9 a.m., an officer who was there alerted us, but the incident happened earlier.”

A Belmont student who is a cadet in Vanderbilt’s Army ROTC program was in the cafe during the incident. They were eating breakfast when the perpetrator walked in.

“This guy walked in, and he seemed really agitated,” the student said. “Suddenly, the dining hall supervisors started telling everyone to get out. Two or three of the supervisors said they saw that he had a gun.”

The student clarified that they did not see the gun themselves and that their statements do not reflect the Vanderbilt ROTC program or the larger U.S. Army. The student is being kept anonymous for protection of retribution.

“I’m thankful for the quick and selfless response from our dining hall staff and Metro PD. It was a surreal experience and the weight of what could have happened didn’t fully register with me until we had all evacuated, but I’m relieved that nobody was harmed,” the student said.

Belmont sophomore Calista Morrison was at R. Milton and Denise Johnson Center of Music when the incident occurred, a floor above the dining hall where the threat took place. A student in Morrison’s class told the professor that her sister, who was in the cafe at the time, said “something weird” was going on and that cafe workers told students to leave the cafe. The student asked Morrison’s professor to close the classroom door for safety purposes. 

Morrison said her professor told the class not to leave the room and continued teaching. Belmont sent the first of two safety alerts about 20 minutes later, informing students of a report of a fight in the cafe.

“We just locked the door and didn’t go out in the hallway. [It seemed that] as soon as [the professor] said [to lock the door], there were so many fire trucks and sirens,” Morrison said. “I saw a couple of unidentified black vehicles. There was a lot of noise and chaos.” 

Morrison added that she felt uneasy returning to the dining hall—the only full-service dining hall on Belmont’s campus—after the incident.

“I don’t think I’ll be going to the cafe [anytime soon],” Morrison said.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.