2 Held Hostage by Armed Man in University of Oregon Dorm Room

The armed man used one of the hostage’s cell phones to report fake incidents on other parts of the University of Oregon campus.

2 Held Hostage by Armed Man in University of Oregon Dorm Room

EUGENE, Ore. — A man was taken into custody Thursday morning on the University of Oregon (UO) campus after he allegedly held two people hostage for hours in a dorm after setting off a fire alarm in another campus building.

The suspect, 37-year-old Shawn Scott Densmore, was taken into custody without incident after one of the student hostages was able to text their location to police, reports The Register-Guard. UO Police Chief Matt Carmichael said the man was armed with a loaded 9 mm pistol and had extra ammunition.

The incident began around 3 a.m. Thursday when a fire alarm was pulled in the William Knight Law Center. After no fire was discovered, campus police reviewed security footage and saw a person pull the alarm while holding a gun and “acting erratically,” Carmichael described in a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Police from multiple agencies responded and the building was evacuated and locked down. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office drone team and a Springfield police canine united conducted a search of the building and sent out an alert to the campus community at 6:30 a.m.

After the fire alarm, Carmichael said they received “odd 911 calls” from the same cellphone reporting alleged incidents from other areas of campus. Police determined the phone belonged to a student in Hamilton Hall, and that student and a friend were being held against their will by the suspect. The suspect used the student’s phone to place the 911 calls. After the suspect left the dorm room, Carmichael said texting from the student helped lead police to the suspect.

After Densmore was detained, an “all clear” alert was sent out around 8:05 a.m. Campus community members are concerned about the way the school responded to the incident. Senior Audrey Kalman told the Register-Guard she was upset that the school didn’t tell students there was an armed suspect detaining people in their dorm room.

“I can’t imagine the experience of those students, but even if I were in that dorm, I’d be like, why the hell weren’t we told this?” she exclaimed. “Especially on a college campus where people are out all hours of the night. I just think it should have been communicated to the students at the time instead of this vague ‘law enforcement’ thing.”

Kalman said she felt like the school was downplaying the incident and that past alerts have been more specific. Carmichael said the timing of the alert was around when people were starting to come back onto campus, and when significant police presence had the area well-contained.

“The timeliness was consistent with one, being safe, and then second making sure people are aware there was a pretty large police presence and we’re looking for this individual,” he said.

Densmore, who has no known affiliation with the university, has been charged with menacing, burglary, criminal trespass, kidnapping, and carrying a concealed firearm, according to NBC. He is currently being held at Lane County Jail.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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