MSU Wild

Students walk between classes during lunchtime on March 8 at Montana State University.

Montana State University reported Wednesday that young men with a gun apparently tried to commit a robbery in the middle of the night inside the Gallatin Hall dormitory.

At about 1:26 a.m. Wednesday, university police were called to the residence hall. A caller from the dorm told dispatchers that he heard a scuffle outside his room and went out to find several men wrestling over a black handgun.

One assailant then fled out a rear door, followed by two others. The three left in a red Dodge Ram pickup truck with a grill guard, heading west on Garfield Street toward 19th Avenue. They have not been found.

“It’s still under investigation,” said Michael Becker, MSU spokesman. The victim of the robbery attempt was not a student but a resident’s guest, he said, adding that police are still looking at his story “to determine the facts.”

“What we don’t know precisely is the exact nature of the altercation,” Becker said.

MSU urged people to “stay safe on campus” by locking dorm doors, avoiding traveling alone at night, avoiding people they don’t know and reporting suspicious activity to police.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the MSU Police Department, 994-2121. For emergencies, call 911.

MSU issued a “timely warning” about the attempted robbery as called for by the Clery Act, to alert the campus community of crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat to safety as soon as possible. The warning went out via email and Facebook.

If MSU police had thought there was an imminent threat to the safety of people or property, a message would have been sent out via text message to students, staff and people who have signed up for MSU’s Alert system, Becker said, but in this case police believed the suspects were long gone and there was no immediate threat.

Students, faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in the MSU Alert system. Friends, family and community members can sign up for alerts by texting the phrase “montanastate” to 888-777.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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