Durham, N.C. — Campus police shot and killed a man near North Carolina Central University late Monday after the man twice opened fire on them, authorities said Tuesday.
Durham police tracked a suspected robber who was believed to be armed near N.C. Central, prompting university officials to lock down the campus at about 10:15 p.m.
N.C. Central police found the man in a wooded area near Cecil and Lincoln streets, near the southeast part of campus, shortly before midnight, and Police Chief Tim Bellamy said he pulled out a shotgun and fired at the campus officers. Campus police returned fire, and the man ran into some woods near the School of Education, Bellamy said.
Durham police brought in K-9 units to help track the man, and officers exchanged gunfire with him a second time when he refused to comply with their orders for him to surrender, Bellamy said. The man was shot and killed during that exchange.
Campus police said the gunman, whose identity hasn't been released, wasn't a student at N.C. Central.
Durham police believed the man was involved in a residential burglary Monday afternoon where several weapons were stolen and a subsequent armed robbery of an individual near downtown, Bellamy said. Other people were involved in the two crimes, he said, but it was unclear whether they were on or near the campus last night.
The lockdown was lifted at about 1:15 a.m., but classes in the School of Education building were held elsewhere Tuesday.
Bellamy said three campus officers were involved in the two exchanges with the gunman, and all three have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is reviewed by the State Bureau of Investigation. That is standard procedure for any officer-involved shooting.
"I'm not going to say I'm relieved," he said when asked about the resolution of the incident. "Somebody's family is suffering today."
University President Debra Saunders-White said the campus police acted heroically.
"Our officers were trained to do the kind of engagement they did when they see a dangerous assailant on campus," Saunders-White said. "They executed that training in the best way possible."
Students expressed concern Tuesday that sirens on campus initially indicated that an alert they signaled Monday night was only a test.
"I have all of my friends going on about whatever they're doing, and it's a serious occurrence outside," sophomore Asia Green said. "It really bothered us."
Bellamy said the sirens were tested last week, and that message was still in the system Monday night. But he said it was immediately replaced as the alert was being issued to reflect that there was a gunman on campus, and text messages, emails and automated phone calls were also issued to warn students
Durham police will have two officers patrolling the N.C. Central campus for the next several days to provide extra security, Bellamy said, adding that the campus experiences relatively few crimes despite being open to people from high-crime neighborhoods nearby.
"We have a very open campus," he said. "We want our students to have the freedom to go and come on campus, and if we put barriers up, fences up, gates up, then we become (less of) a university, and we'll look more like a penitentiary."