Rhode Island college evacuated after shell casing found

The Warwick campus of the Community College of Rhode Island is reopening after an evacuation prompted by the discovery of a spent shell casing near classrooms

WARWICK, R.I. -- The Community College of Rhode Island's Warwick campus was evacuated for several hours Wednesday after an employee found a spent ammunition casing near classrooms.

The casing was found around 7 a.m. near an elevator on the sixth floor of the only building on campus, school President Meghan Hughes said at a news conference after the campus was declared safe.

"In light of the tragedy yesterday at UNC-Charlotte, we made the decision to evacuate our campus," Hughes said, referring to a shooting Tuesday at the North Carolina school that left two people dead.

Police swept the campus with the aid of firearms detection dogs, but no weapons or additional casings were found, campus Police Chief Capt. Sean Collins said.

The campus was reopening Wednesday.

Detectives are still trying to figure out where the casing came from, said Warwick Police Chief Col. Rick Rathbun.

He said he could not disclose the caliber of the casing and added it's too early to say whether criminal charges will be warranted.

Providence and Rhode Island State Police assisted.

The school first tweeted: "Please evacuate the Warwick Campus immediately. Remain calm. Wait for further instructions," but didn't say why an evacuation was needed.

The school later tweeted that there was "not an active shooter" on the campus.

City police were the first to disclose via a tweet that a shell casing had been found.

There are as many as 7,000 people on campus during a typical weekday, and Wednesday was the last day of classes before final exams, college spokeswoman Amy Kempe said.

The Community College of Rhode Island has five campuses around the state with a total of about 18,000 students, according to its website.