Local News

App State Student: When 'I Saw That Gun, I Just Ran'

Posted March 4, 2008

— Appalachian State University students returned to class Tuesday. Officials put the campus on lockdown Monday after students reported seeing a gunman.

It began when a student from Durham reported an attempted break-in at his off-campus apartment. Matthew Haney said he saw a man with a gun trying to steal his TV.

“All I did was as soon as I saw that gun, I just ran,” Haney said. “I wasn’t really thinking about anything else except, ‘I’m glad I’m safe.’”

Haney said the man then ran through the woods towards campus. Soon after, a student reported seeing the masked gunman at the dining hall, so school officials decided to put everyone on lockdown.

“The police were scurrying around campus looking in different places. They weren’t sure where he had gone at the time,” said student Ashley Spalding.

About an hour and a half later, police lifted the lockdown. They determined the gunman was no longer a threat.

In an emergency alert posted at 4:47 p.m. Monday on the university's Web site, officials said the man – described as Caucasian, 6 feet tall, wearing a black Pink Floyd T-shirt with a rainbow prism on it – was seen in the area of Appalachian South Apartments and the Hill Street area.

He was said to be carrying a small black handgun and wearing a black or blue ski mask and red-and-green tennis shoes, according the Web site.

No shots were fired and no injuries were reported during the incident.

"For the most part, things seem to be orderly and we actually have a pretty good emergency plan in place after Northern Illinois," Appalachian State student Paul Reichelt said.

On Valentine's Day, a gunman killed five students before committing suicide at Northern Illinois University. Since then, many area colleges have tested audible warning and text-message-alert systems designed to notify students of emergencies.

Such systems gained popularity after an April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting spree, where a student gunman killed 32 people and himself.

Reichelt said there were a lot of police on campus and that a professor told him about the gunman sighting shortly before 5 p.m.

"Things (here) are definitely as good as they could be, considering there is a gunman nearby," Reichelt said during a phone interview with WRAL shortly after the lockdown was issued.


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Mar 4, 2008

    I agree this was a hoax. Where is this young man's alibi?

  • Mr.Tambourine Man Mar 4, 2008

    What did I tell ya yesterday, a hoax!

  • ssi Mar 4, 2008

    I would be willing to bet that this individual was neither hungry nor desperate. The economy is not to the point that it would make honest people do this sort of thing. I would also be willing to wager that this is not the first time this guy has been in someone else's residence uninvited. There are just some worthless people on this earth.

  • happy Mar 4, 2008

    Funny...I went to WCU back in the mid 80's. After a large snow storm students gathered in front of the cafeteria and threw snowballs at any car that drove through. One car didn't like it but kept coming thru. Last time he rolled through he fired shots at the crowd.

    Difference in 20 years? That story never made it to the news. We just scattered and went back to our dorms.

  • ahh-fooie.... Mar 4, 2008

    So the essence of the story is "It was a breaking and entering"
    right! Not a gangland shooting or a public massacre correct?

  • Rocknhorse Mar 4, 2008

    I didn't go to Boone, I went to Cullowhee, but I agree. Something about the mountains gave a sense of safety!

    Once the emergency was over, my husband and I had to joke a little about it. We said if someone had come on campus like that when we were in school, there's no telling what students would have done to him, but we could certainly visualize that he'd be found hog tied, sans clothes, stranded somewhere in the back woods of Robbinsville, covered in honey!

  • LRB Mar 4, 2008

    Peekapoo Pup I feel the same way. There were many nights I walked across campus from my friends apartment back to my dorm and never thought twice about it. You never even heard of anyone getting robbed. It's just sad.

  • Lissa13082 Mar 4, 2008

    The Fox - that outfit is typical Boone... It doesn't rule out many of the people up there...

  • Harrison Bergeron Mar 4, 2008

    Actually, I was just talking about this study a little while ago, it corroborates the data showing robbery to be the only violent crime affected by the state of the economy, and robbery doesn't comprise the entire "street crime" category. There are other correlates that are stronger indicators of violent crime rate.

    http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1 7 4 5 -9 1 2 5.2 0 0 6.0 0 0 4 5.x (spaces to bypass censor for some strange reason)

    However, I believe the issue here is now criminals are beginning to realize that college campuses are going to be easy targets, given that they are gun-free zones and the students have been trained to become hysterical and flee at the sight of a gun.

  • The Fox Mar 4, 2008

    Suspect had...t-shirt with a rainbow prism on it... red & green tennis shoes. OK, Jimmy Buffett, let's hear your alibi.