Chapel Hill police send knife-wielding man for mental exam
Posted March 24
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A man who threatened a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student with two knives Sunday afternoon has been involuntarily committed to UNC Hospitals for a psychiatric evaluation.
Chapel Hill police took Jesse Alan Kister, 31, into custody in a church parking lot near the intersection of East Franklin Street and Raleigh Road about 45 minutes after the confrontation in The Pit, a campus courtyard outside the Frank Porter Graham Student Union.
Witnesses said Kister began arguing with a student in The Pit, then pulled out the knives and started screaming, "Get out." When two other people confronted him, Kister ran off toward Franklin Street, according to witnesses.
The incident put the UNC-Chapel Hill campus on lockdown and prompted school administrators to activate the Alert Carolina emergency system, which notified students, faculty and staff via text and email and sounded sirens across campus.
Once he is released from the hospital, Kister will face charges of assault with a deadly weapon, communicating threats and possession of a weapon on campus, police said.
Kister earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has worked for various technology companies and last year launched Algorhythmic L3C, a health care informatics consulting firm.
A source close to his family said Kister returned to North Carolina from California last year, has been troubled in recent months and clearly needs help.
Police said UNC sophomore Peter Diaz filed an assault with a deadly weapon complaint Sunday after seeing Kister's photo in media reports of his arrest. Diaz said Kister pulled a knife on him and a companion Saturday night outside the Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom on West Franklin Street.
"It looked like he was possessed or really angry about something but wasn't able to completely express it," Diaz said Monday.
Diaz said he and his friend were eating at the bar in the restaurant when Kister sat down next to them, and he stared at them and muttered for the rest of their meal. He said Kister rushed out the door as they got up to leave, and he confronted them at a nearby corner.
"I looked at him and said, 'What are you doing?' and he started shaking his head, getting aggravated," Diaz said.
Kister then pulled out a knife and told Diaz and his friend to keep walking, Diaz said. The pair ran off and returned later to talk to police.
"Everyone in the area that had seen this happen was very rattled," he said. "This wasn't like in an alley or anything. It was sort of where everyone was eating outside."
Diaz doesn't plan to press charges in that case, police said Monday.
"I don't feel like I have anything to gain by pressing charges as long as he's not on the street doing that kind of thing to random people because it's very scary," Diaz said.