CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — An apparent shooting at the University of North Carolina flagship campus on Monday led to a school-wide alert warning of an “armed, dangerous person on or near campus” and urging people to go inside and avoid windows.
Authorities didn't immediately provide details of the alleged shooting on the Chapel Hill campus, including whether anyone had been shot. But Gov. Roy Cooper posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he had spoken to the Orange County sheriff and the state’s public safety secretary and “pledged all state resources needed to capture the shooter and protect the UNC campus.”
Cooper's office declined to provide further information, saying it didn't want to get ahead of what local authorities were saying. School officials said as soon as they had verified information, they would share it. They didn't immediately respond to an email seeking further details.
The school's first alert was sent out just after 1 p.m. At 1:50 p.m., officials posted on X that the shelter-in-place order remained in effect and that it was “an ongoing situation.” About 40 minutes later, the school added a post saying: “Remain sheltered in place. This is an ongoing situation. Suspect at large.”
About two hours after the first alert went out, officers were still arriving in droves, with about 50 police vehicles at the scene and multiple helicopters circling over the school.
One officer admonished two people who tried to exit the student center, yelling “Inside, now!” About 10 minutes later, law enforcement escorted a group of students out of one of the science buildings, with everyone walking in an orderly line with their hands up.
UNC Medical Center was still accepting patients Monday afternoon despite being on lockdown as a precaution, but it had not received any patients from the incident on campus, according to Alan Wolf, a spokesperson for UNC Health. Outpatient clinics were closed for the day, he said.
The report of the shooting and subsequent lockdown paralyzed campus and parts of the surrounding town of Chapel Hill a week after classes began at the state’s flagship public university. The university has approximately 20,000 undergraduate students and 12,000 graduate students.
A student told TV station WTVD that she had barricaded her dormitory door with her furniture. Another student, speaking softly, described hiding in fear with others in a dark bathroom.
Noel T. Brewer, a professor of health behavior, said he was once held at gunpoint in his mother’s jewelry store, but that Monday’s apparent shooting and lockdown was “far more stressful.”
Speaking from his locked office where he hid with other colleagues, Brewer, 57, said by phone that he was getting little information.
Brewer, a married father of two young kids, said he felt for anyone who might have been shot.
“But even in our own building, the students who are locked down and what they’re thinking about — it’s just a lot. It’s a terrible situation,” said Brewer.
It was also the first day of kindergarten for Brewer’s 5-year-old son. His elementary school was also on lockdown.
“He doesn’t know what’s going on. And at some point, he’s going to realize that he hasn’t gotten on the bus when he’s supposed to,” he said.
Brewer, who also has a 2-year-old added: “My husband and I have been trading texts and trying to figure out what to do … Just wondering how our kids are feeling. It’s a lot.”
One of Brewer's colleagues is visiting from Africa and staying in the U.S. for the first time.
“She said her one concern was guns and possibly something happening at the university,” Brewer said. “And this was her first faculty meeting, and her worst nightmare came true.”
As he and his colleagues waited in locked offices, they texted each other about whether it was safe to walk to the bathroom.
“We’re trying to tell each other stories and talk about cooking and trying to not get worked up,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re fielding lots of texts and calls from friends and family and colleagues.”
Nearby Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools posted on social media that all doors would be locked at its schools and offices until authorities say it's safe.
Associated Press writers Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland, Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, and Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.