The campus at Southern Adventist University was locked down shortly after noon, after Chattanooga State security advised SAU authorities, that a former student, James Gaines, made a specific threat to use firearms and explosives.
"The suspect was upset over some delayed paperwork and made a specific threat towards the campus," said Collegedale Police PIO Tonya Stadler.
Students say law enforcement acted quickly.
"Every five minutes seemed like three more would show up and then we saw like the SWAT team come out and like people were putting on their gear and everything and it was like wow this is serious, it is a big deal," said SAU student Rachel Hankins.
Gaines never made it to campus, and was detained off site. No weapons were found but school officials had to fight a barrage of rumors on social media.
"Kids are out there tweeting one thing or the other. There are things you want to tell parents, you want to tell other students, when you can't verify stuff, you hate to pass along incorrect information so we worked as hard as we could to pass along accurate, verified information as quickly as we could" said SAU University Relations head Lucas Patterson.
Students say the SWAT team entered one dorm after seeing a suspicious character.
"Why they came into our room is someone was running around in a black hoodie, trying to figure out what was going on...saw the SWAT team got scared, and tried to jump out of the window of the room next to us, that's when we heard yelling, and the SWAT team came," said SAU student Theodore Roman.
The campus lockdown was lifted about 2 hours later, security officials say it proved to be a learning opportunity for them.
"Do the drills, do the practice, do the evacuations, when there is a process in place such as a timely warning for notification about a possible threat to your safety, react to it. Do something about it. I'd say that's the biggest thing to take away from this something moving forward would be to learn from this," said SAU Patrol Supervisor, Lt. Josh Fraker.