Update, 10:20 a.m.: MSU Police responded to the 9-1-1 call Monday afternoon about a professor yelling in the Engineering Building in four minutes, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said.
The police received the call at 1:07 p.m. yesterday and arrived at the Engineering Building at 1:11 p.m., McGlothian-Taylor said.
Students previously told The State News they were concerned about the response time of police, claiming it had been a dangerous amount of time to wait for help during the incident.
Computer science senior Hayden Boroski previously told The State News he called 9-1-1 during the incident from inside his classroom and waited about 15 minutes before police arrived.
Since the beginning of mathematics professor John McCarthy’s class, Kyle Hillman said he knew something was off about his professor.
The mechanical engineering freshman saw it in the way McCarthy wore the same clothes every class session — a yellowed white T-shirt with a bald eagle, canoe and Alaska scrolled across the front, ill-fitting blue jeans and an oversized belt, which he constantly was pulling up.
But Monday afternoon, McCarthy wore formal attire, just not for very long, Hillman said of his older professor.
McCarthy reportedly stripped off his clothes and walked through the ground floor halls of the Engineering Building.
Several witnesses told The State News he was screaming and swearing at students as he walked.
“When it was happening, most of the people in the classroom were laughing because it was funny to us at the time,” Hillman said of his professor’s outburst. “It just was when I left I was worried he might have had a weapon, and I was sort of terrified.”
MSU police responded to a call at 1:07 p.m. Monday afternoon in which they took the professor into protective custody and transported him to a local hospital.
No crime was committed, and no one was injured, MSU police Sgt. Florene McGlothian-Taylor said.
Students identified the man taken into custody as mathematics professor John McCarthy.
Hillman said McCarthy was describing derivatives to his class of about 35 students when he began to digress. McCarthy commonly went off on rants that did not make sense to Hillman.
During McCarthy’s apparent breakdown, he talked about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, computers and his MSU co-workers being actors, among other things, Hillman said.
“Not really any of it made sense,” Hillman said.
McCarthy walked into the hallway and pressed his body against the glass window outside of the classroom.
Hillman said the professor started yelling, “Look, I’m not even yelling,” before making his way back to the front of the class, covering his face with his hands and beginning to cry.
“He took out his wallet and took out a dollar bill and started shaking it around,” Hillman said. “He started swearing and yelling about God and stuff. He ran out in the hallway.”
Once McCarthy left, a few men in their mid-20s came to the doorway of Hillman’s classroom and told them class was dismissed.
Hillman said he does not think they were affiliated with any type of campus security.
Hillman then left the Engineering Building, at which time McCarthy was fully clothed and walking down the hallway, Hillman said.
Minutes later, computer science junior Ryan Tempas was sitting in a nearby classroom when he said he saw a man walk by and shout he had a gun.
“He didn’t have clothes on, so we figured he probably didn’t (have a gun),” Tempas said.
Computer science senior Adam Crane, one of Tempas’ classmates, said he became nervous as the man began to shout louder.
“I got nervous just because it is a security risk and someone going crazy like that has happened in the past, like at Virginia Tech,” Crane said.
Another classmate of Crane’s and Tempas’, computer science senior Hayden Boroski, agreed the situation was a safety threat.
Boroski called 9-1-1 and said it took about 15 minutes for police to arrive at the scene, which he thought was unacceptable.
“It was like (the man) was in his own little world, not looking at anyone or addressing anyone, screaming at the world,” Boroski said. “Kids would come down the hall and run down the other way, running away from him.”
Although there was concern from some witnesses about police response times to the incident and safety procedures, university spokesman Kent Cassella said otherwise.
“All indications are that the police responded very quickly, and of course, within 90 minutes of the incident, Student Services Office had reached out to all of those students in the classroom,” Cassella said.
Word of the incident has gone viral, as students, including Crane, posted the story on Reddit and Twitter.
“I feel bad for his family, and they’re getting all this attention from this now because it isn’t something you want to have associated with yourself; it’s embarassing,” Crane said.
Staff writer Lilly Keyes contributed to this report.