UNC Chapel Hill lockdown lifted after man with gun arrested; students frustrated by weapon culture

Watblog – UNC Chapel Hill – Local authorities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently lifted a lockdown that had been imposed due to a warning about an “armed and dangerous individual.” This incident marked the second lockdown at the university since the beginning of the semester. UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced the cancellation of classes for the remainder of the day during a news conference.

The “all clear” signal was given by local police on social media, specifically on Twitter, at 2:10 p.m. Prior to that, at 12:54 p.m., the university had sent an email activating the Alert Carolina sirens, notifying the community of an armed and dangerous person in the vicinity. People were advised to seek shelter immediately, secure their surroundings, and follow instructions from emergency responders.

According to Brian James, the Chief of Police at UNC-Chapel Hill, witnesses reported that the suspect had displayed a firearm during an employment-related dispute at Alpine Bagel, a bagel shop within the campus’s Student Union. The suspect, identified as Mickel Deonte Harris, aged 27, was apprehended and arrested on outstanding warrants related to an assault that occurred on September 5, 2023, as stated in a news release from the Chapel Hill Police Department.

Law enforcement officials are currently reviewing campus surveillance footage from the incident. While they believe there may be a connection between the armed individual and the suspect, the motive behind the incident remains unclear.

Chancellor Guskiewicz expressed deep concern about the repeated lockdowns, emphasizing that firearms are strictly prohibited on the university campus, as well as on all campuses across the state of North Carolina.

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This recent lockdown was the second instance in just over two weeks, with the prior one occurring following a shooting incident involving a graduate student, Tailei Qi, who fatally shot an associate professor on campus. Qi was subsequently arrested and charged with first-degree murder and carrying a firearm on campus. Chancellor Guskiewicz clarified that these two incidents were unrelated.

The repeated lockdowns have left students like Jason Naulty, a law student at UNC-Chapel Hill, feeling frustrated. Naulty recalled being in the same classroom when he and his fellow students received a similar alert on August 28. Initially, they thought it might be a system glitch, but the realization of another armed individual on campus heightened their frustration and disbelief.

Naulty and his peers will have to make up for missed classes due to these lockdowns, adding to concerns about gun policy and culture in the country. In response to these incidents, there have been calls for stricter gun control measures in North Carolina and nationwide. Protestors from the university’s March For Our Lives chapter urged people to vote out state legislators for their perceived inaction on gun reform during a recent session of the North Carolina Legislature.

The rising number of gun-involved incidents on school campuses in the United States, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, is a matter of significant concern, with a record high of 188 such incidents resulting in casualties during the 2021-2022 school year.