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Local authorities have given the green light for students, faculty, and other members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to “resume normal activities” after an unsettling lockdown lasting over an hour, prompted by reports of an “armed and dangerous individual.” This incident marks the second lockdown experienced by the university since the commencement of the semester, resulting in class cancellations for the remainder of the day, as announced by UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz during a press conference.
Local law enforcement provided a reassuring update via Twitter at 2:10 p.m., confirming the situation was now safe.
The lockdown was initiated at 12:54 p.m. when the university issued an email stating that the “Alert Carolina sirens” had been activated due to a reported armed and dangerous person either on or near campus. The instructions were clear: “go inside immediately, close windows and doors, stay until further notice,” and “follow directions from emergency responders.”
The Incident Details Of UNC
Brian James, the Chief of Police at UNC Chapel Hill, disclosed that witnesses observed the suspect brandishing a firearm at a local bagel shop known as Alpine Bagel, situated in the campus’s Student Union. This altercation stemmed from an employment-related conflict. The suspect, identified as Mickel Deonte Harris, 27, was subsequently apprehended and arrested for “outstanding warrants related to an assault on September 5, 2023,” as per a news release from the Chapel Hill Police Department.
While police continue to review campus footage from the incident, James suggested that there may be some connection between the armed individual and the suspect . Nevertheless, the reasons behind the occurrence remain shrouded in uncertainty.
Chancellor’s Concerns Of UNC
Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz expressed his dismay over the recurring lockdowns, stating, “It’s sad and alarming that there have now been two lockdowns over the past 16 days on our campus where we’ve had to apprehend individuals who violated the safety and well-being of our community.” He emphasized the prohibition of firearms on campus and reminded everyone of this policy.
Second Lockdown in Three Weeks
The recent lockdown was the second in response to threats of gunfire on or near campus within three weeks. An earlier lockdown occurred when a graduate student, Tailei Qi, 34, fatally shot Zijie Yan, an associate professor in the department of applied physical sciences, on campus with a firearm. Qi was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and possessing a firearm on campus. Chancellor Guskiewicz clarified that the two incidents are not related.
The repeated lockdowns have left a significant impact on students like Jason Naulty, a law student at UNC Chapel Hill. He expressed his frustration at the situation, particularly the need to make up for missed classes due to the lockdowns. Naulty also expressed concerns about gun policy and gun culture in the country.
Calls for Action
In response to the lockdowns, some students took to social media to demand stricter gun control measures at the state and national levels. This comes at a time when gun-involved shootings on school campuses in the United States have reached a record high, with 188 incidents resulting in casualties during the 2021-2022 academic year, as per information gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The recurring lockdowns and concerns about gun violence have sparked activism both on and off campus, with students advocating for change and increased safety measures.
The recent lockdown at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has raised concerns about campus safety and gun violence, prompting calls for stricter gun control measures. It is essential to address these concerns and work towards creating safer environments for students and faculty on college campuses across the nation.