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GREENVILLE, NC (AP) — A three-hour lockdown at East Carolina University was triggered when a man carrying an umbrella was mistaken for a gunman.

University spokeswoman Mary Schulken said the lockdown began about 10 a.m. when personnel from the Greenville Police Department monitoring a surveillance camera saw a man near campus who appeared to be carrying an assault rifle. An alert was issued ordering students, faculty and staff to stay inside and lock their doors.

Heavily armed officers from at least four law enforcement agencies responded in force, sweeping campus buildings, searching buses and briefly surrounding a nearby house. A state Highway Patrol helicopter hovered overhead.

Schulken said the response was justified even though it turned out to be based on a false report.

Calls to Greenville police seeking comment were not returned.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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