UNC Wilmington will hold classes, gunman remains at large
Posted November 15, 2011
Wilmington, N.C. — Officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington say classes will go on as scheduled Tuesday, even though a suspect in an armed robbery ran toward the campus after the holdup late Monday night.
UNC Wilmington spokeswoman Dana Fischetti said Tuesday morning that instructions for students to remain in a secure location were lifted at 5 a.m. Fischetti says the suspect in the holdup of two people at a nearby restaurant is still at large, but extra officers are in place on campus.
Fischetti says students have been told they're free to move about the campus, but should be alert and report any suspicious activity to police.
In a series of alerts sent out via email, text message, voicemail and on the university's website just before midnight Monday, officials warned people to find a secure location, lock the door and stay away from the window, and then to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to authorities.
Campus Police Chief David Donaldson told the AP the alert was issued as a "precautionary measure" after the robbery was reported at 11:54 p.m. Monday at a Hardees parking lot near campus on South College Road. The suspect was carrying a small-caliber handgun, Donaldson said.
No one was hurt in the robbery but a wallet and two cell phones were taken.
Wilmington police used a helicopter and K-9 unit to try to find the man, who was wearing a red cloth over his face, Officer Kenneth Reichard told The Associated Press.
Located on North Carolina's coastline, the university has about 13,000 students and has grown significantly since a 2002 bond issue that paved the way for more than $508 million to be spent on capital projects at the campus.
In August, another situation involving a gunman on campus raised concerns from university officials who said the school's emergency alert system failed to properly notify the campus as police searched for a man accused of a shooting in a nearby apartment complex.
After the shooting, Donaldson ordered a campus-wide alert via phone, text message and email to warn the community about the armed man on the loose. The alert was never sent.
Officials said at the time the lapse appeared to be a case of human error rather than a technical problem, and university spokeswoman Dana Fischetti said updates were being sent to the campus via text message, email and voice message late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
The alert system at UNCW encompasses not only phone calls, emails and text messages, but can include everything from social media to the interruption of cable television on campus. The system was adopted by the university after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech as a way of getting emergency information out in as many formats as possible in a short amount of time.