UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member killed in shootout, resulting in campus closure

A faculty member was killed and one person was held in custody Monday after a shooting that shut down the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three hours and prompted urgent warnings for students to take shelter.

Classes started a week ago, but the shooting triggered horror and an eerie silence when time on campus is usually joyful and exciting.

“This is truly a tragic day for our campus community,” UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said at an afternoon news conference.

Officials did not release the suspect’s name, as he had not yet been charged, nor the name of the victim, whose next of kin have been notified by authorities.

The first call to 911 relating to a shooting at Caudill Labs, a centrally located chemistry-focused facility, was received at 1:02 p.m., UNC Police Chief Brian James said at the news conference.

Scores of police officers from other agencies arrived on campus, some in armored vehicles, while a helicopter hovered overhead. The school administration quickly canceled the class.

Kevin Guskiewicz, Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, said in a news conference that a suspect shot and killed a faculty member in a campus building on Aug. 28. (Video: The Washington Post)

The shooting came two days after a gunman in Jacksonville, Fla., visited Edward Waters University, a historically black college, before killing three people in what authorities say was a racially motivated attack on a Dollar General store. A security guard refused to let the later shooter into the school, the university said.

The suspect in the UNC shooting was arrested at 2:31 p.m., James said.

It’s still too early to know a motive, he said at the evening press conference, and investigators are still looking for the firearm used in the shooting. During the lockdown, authorities released a photo of an “armed and dangerous” man and labeled him a “person of interest”. They did not later confirm whether this man was the detained suspect.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D), a graduate of the school, promised the following: tweet that “all government resources needed to apprehend the shooter and protect the UNC campus would be made available.” President Biden has been briefed on the shooting, according to a White House statement.

Jackson Gerdes, a sophomore, was walking into a dining room when he received a university alert on his phone, telling everyone on campus to take shelter.

Gerdes told the staffer, who was swiping his student ID, about the warning before rushing up an escalator to the second floor of the dining room, where a friend found him.

As the couple sat down at a table, students around them began monitoring local police scanners and scrolling through anonymous messaging app Yik Yak to find more information. Friends who live in different states texted Gerdes asking if he was safe. What struck him was that nothing was going on.

“The campus was a ghost town,” he said. “It was surreal not seeing or hearing anything.”

Guskiewicz said he was pleased with the way the staff were completing their training and implementing the shootout response plan.

But Kyle Sandino, a political science and drama student, wanted more communication from the university.

Sandino and his classmates received an emergency alert to take shelter where they were. Her professor tried to lock the classroom door, but the door wouldn’t lock, Sandino said.

It was just after 1 p.m. when about 20 geology students, their professor, and a teaching assistant rushed into the basement of Mitchell Hall and locked themselves in a room.

The students met with about 10 others from a lab in the building, Sandino told The Washington Post via a messaging app, before giving the all-clear.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you, and maybe I had similar thoughts, but today it happened,” he said. “It’s happening as I write this, and it can happen to anyone else in this country.”

Guskiewicz said there will be resources for student and staff mental health.

“The shooting hurts the confidence and safety that we so often take for granted,” Guskiewicz said.

Nick Anderson contributed to this report.


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Jennifer Adams

Dedicated news writer with a passion for truth and accuracy. Covering stories that impact lives.

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