Local News

Not Using WolfAlert System After Robberies Questioned

Posted March 12, 2008
Updated March 13, 2008

— Two recent armed robberies at North Carolina State University have students questioning why a WolfAlert wasn't sent to make them aware of a threat.

Two students told police they were near 2110 Avent Ferry Road at about 9 p.m. Monday when a man wearing a mask and armed with a knife robbed them. A graduate student was leaving a building on the Centennial Campus on Tuesday afternoon when two men armed with a handgun demanded his wallet.

In both instances, the campus did not activate its WolfAlert notification system of cell-phone text messages and other alerts.

The university implemented the emergency text-messaging system last month. So far, 12,500 students have registered for it.

There is value in the system, “especially with the other shootings, like Carolina, Auburn, Northern Illinois (and), you know, Virginia Tech,” N.C. State student David Orr said.

Student Shelly Young said she signed up for WolfAlerts immediately. That was “so I know what's going on, on campus, at all times,” she said.

Yet, Young she said didn't know about Tuesday's armed robbery until hours after it happened.

“I didn't get one (WolfAlert). People I talked to didn't get one either,” she said.

The university decided not to sent out an alert.

“We believe that was the right decision,” said David Rainer, N.C. State's associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety.

Rainer said the university is being very cautious about how it uses the text-alert system.

“One of the things we're concerned about is over-notification,” he added.

Rainer said no alert was issued because the suspects were seen running away from campus.

“We want to be sure that we can give people good and useful information if there's an ongoing emergency, and yesterday's event didn't meet the criteria that we would apply,” he said.

“I disagree. I think an armed robber on campus should merit a text message,” Orr said.

That was the opinion of every student WRAL spoke with Wednesday.

“It could save lives, save time (and) save money. I mean, it's pretty crucial,” Azad Karimi said.

“If there's a gunman on campus, it definitely requires some kind of alert,” Brad Young said.

Students said they received a university e-mail about the armed robberies hours after they had occurred. Campus police said they are on heightened patrol in wake of the recent robberies.

Police asked anyone with information that could help in the investigations to call 919-515-2498. A $1,000 reward is being offered in the case.


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  • Ken D. Mar 13, 2008

    "You can't have TOO much information."

    Not sure I agree with that. Seems to me the University acted appropriately. How many false alarms do you think there will have to be before the system's usefulness is destroyed? I suspect the number is a lot smaller than most people would think.

  • yruatwit Mar 13, 2008

    David Rainer's comment was nothing more than a robotic spewing script that he was told to repeat by superiors to circle the wagons and cover their elitist, snotty-nose behinds. What a supreme crock trying to justify their actions via "Over-notification." You can't have TOO much information. These college situations should always lean heavily on the side of caution and safety. How about we go by Rainer's office and and express the shear lunacy of their decision and justification, would that meet the alert criteria?

  • SomethingClever Mar 13, 2008

    I think an armed robbery on or in a close vicinity to campus should constitute a good reason to use the WolfAlert System. Anyone claiming it would have been like "crying wolf" to many times hasn't been listening. The system has been heard around town at least a good 20 times in the past 2 weeks as "This is only a test." I for one, would rather hear it being used in a real instance then testing it to death. I don't even pay attention to it anymore from so many "tests." I understand the need to test, but not THAT much. Talk about crying "Wolf."

  • paradox2920 Mar 13, 2008

    Was either event corroborated by other witnesses? Gotta be honest my faith was severely tested by that kid at App. If there was corroboration of the person with a gun then by all means send it out. If not all you're doing is creating an atmosphere of victimization and fear. Our news media does enough of that, our schools don't need to jump on the pile.

  • Me again Mar 13, 2008

    Be careful what you ask. You don't want to cry WOLF (sorry about that) too many times or else the texts will be ignored for a larger emergency.

  • MilkkBone Mar 13, 2008

    "OH NO I didnt get a text message!!" wahhh....well emails were sent out, and if you live near campus you can hear the alert...take 2 seconds to get on your computer and check your emails or just open your window

  • Through a glass darkly Mar 13, 2008

    "I can't imagine anyone complaining about receiving a text message about an armed gunman on campus."

    1) It costs me $.10 for every text message I receive; 2) The gunman wasn't on campus; 3) The sirens can be heard for nearly a mile, but the speakers can't, so you are scaring neighbors without giving them real information.

    In general, I agree with NCSU on this one. It is like the terrorism alert at the airport. It has been orange for so long that it has become meaningless. I thought the system was set up for situations when everyone should stop what they are doing and take some sort of protective action -- such as with tornado sirens.

  • jtp755 Mar 13, 2008

    I live right behind nc state and i can hear the alerts from the speakers. I so agree though that no matter what crime happens i would like to know about it. Atleast then i can either stay inside or carry my .45 with me. Downtown Raleigh is getting terrible and its a shame!

  • Alicat Mar 13, 2008

    Sending the text could have stirred up quite a bit of unnecessary chaos and fear. I think the though behind wolf alert is for campus wide threat. I am not minimizing a armed gunman on campus as trivial, far from it, but I think it should be kept in perspective as to what kind of scare that text could have set off, not to mention, those who carry weapons and are want to be heroes. Remember people can carry concealed weapons with proper certification, which is also scary.

  • Seeminglyopposed Mar 13, 2008

    Remember when only a few weeks ago the people went crazy when they did a drill at one of the colleges and the professor claimed he had to take off because of the hardship that it caused. And this same forum claimed someone could have gotten killed because of the drill. Now that this is happening, why didn't they sound an alert. See people are never satisfied. You are darned if you do and darned if you don't.