Following the deadly 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, the university overhauled its emergency alert procedures. The email alert system was upgraded and other safety components were added to rush safety notifications to students.
Before Thursday, the campus went on full alert this August, for a report of a man on campus carrying a gun. Girls from Washington D.C. attending a summer camp at Virginia Tech told campus police they saw a man walking around campus with a weapon underneath a piece of fabric. The alert went out, the campus went into lockdown, but after several hours search, investigators did not find anyone carrying a gun on campus. The alert was then lifted.
The campus was also on alert in March of 2010, when a series of online postings threatened students and faculty. A YouTube user with the name "nextvirgtechkiller" posted messages like "the massacre is coming," and sent violent emails to students. The FBI, after tracing the messages to Italy, determined that the threat was not credible.
A campus-wide alert was sent in January of 2009, after a student from China was discovered beheaded in the Graduate Life Center. After an investigation, police determined that another student from China, Haiyang Zhu, killed the student with a kitchen knife after she rebuffed his romantic advances.
The campus was locked down in November of 2008, when gun shot-like sounds were heard on campus. Police searched Pritchard Hall in the incident, and concluded there was no threat. Police believe the sounds came from the cartridge of a power nail gun.
A student who assisted campus police with that investigation, Mina Sharobim, said at the time: "Especialy with the things that have happened here, you never can be too careful."