Raleigh, N.C. — Two elementary schools and the north Raleigh campus of Wake Technical Community College were locked down for more than two hours Monday morning after a man carrying a rifle was spotted near one of the schools.
Police said someone saw an armed man in camouflage clothing in a wooded area near Riverbend Elementary School, at 6710 Perry Creek Road, shortly after 9 a.m. Wake County school officials immediately placed Riverbend Elementary and Fox Road Elementary, at 7101 Fox Road, on Code Yellow lockdown, meaning exterior doors were locked but classes continued on a normal schedule inside.
Wake Tech and the school district's Early College Program on the Wake Tech campus, off U.S. Highway 401 and Fox Road, were also locked down. Police diverted students arriving for class away from campus to keep the number of people outside classroom buildings to a minimum.
"Someone came in our room and said, 'This isn't a warning or practice. This is serious. Lock your doors,'" Wake Tech student Lauren White said. "It was nerve-wracking. We had no idea what was going on or what to expect."
About 5,000 students attend classes at Wake Tech's north Raleigh campus, and about 200 faculty and staff work there.
"You hope that it is a monumental overreaction. You'd much rather have that than have a real situation," Wake Tech instructor Todd Lovett said.
"I much rather not have to go to class then have to worry about some dude shooting me," student Andrew Goldsmith said.
Raleigh police officers, Wake County deputies, troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and agents with the state Wildlife Resources Commission searched the area but couldn't find the man. No other sightings were reported.
"It's just a hunter. Someone who was hunting deer across the road just walked on there," Wake Tech student Jake Gay said, echoing the speculation of many people who waited out the lockdown.
Fox Road Elementary returned to normal operations at about 11:15 a.m., officials said, and the lockdowns were lifted at Wake Tech and Riverbend Elementary at about 11:30 a.m.
North Carolina has no regulations prohibiting hunting near schools in unincorporated areas of counties, state wildlife officer Brent Ward said. A hunter needs only get permission from the landowner, he said.
The only exception involved target shooting, which must be done at least 100 yards from an occupied building, Ward said.
Raleigh police said they planned to maintain extra patrols near the schools for the rest of the day.