UNC-CH ramps up security after attempted abduction
Posted November 11, 2015
Updated November 12, 2015
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is increasing security in response to a kidnapping attempt of a female student last weekend.
The student was approached by an armed man late Friday who tried to force her into a car near the intersection of Kenan Street and West Cameron Avenue, police said. She was able to escape uninjured when bystanders intervened.
Keith Robert Webster Jr., 30, of 2925 Forrestal Drive in Durham, was charged with second-degree kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a felon in connection with the incident. He remains in the Orange County jail under a $100,000 bond.
"This incident was deeply alarming and unsettling to all of us. Your safety is our top priority," Chancellor Carol Folt wrote in a Tuesday message to students to announce the security upgrades.
UNC Public Safety and the Chapel Hill Police Department are increasing foot patrols in the downtown business district Thursday through Saturday nights.
"I think that makes the students feel a lot safer, having extra eyes monitoring what's going on," said student Rene Kronloge.
University officials are also weighing whether to install security cameras across the campus. If installed, the cameras would be controlled by the Department of Public Safety and used to deter criminal activity and support investigations.
"If people who are carrying these things out know that there is increased security, that will probably deter them in the future," said student Dylan Abolofia.
Also, a group of university, community and student leaders has been looking at ways to increase nighttime safety on and near campus, such as examining whether campus and community lighting and nighttime transportation options are adequate and reviewing smartphone apps that could enhance awareness and communication. The group is expected to make recommendations to UNC-Chapel Hill administrators in the coming weeks.
Folt urged students to exercise caution when out at night by walking in groups and sticking to well-lit areas. Students also should remain vigilant and call police to report any suspicious activity, she said.
"Once it gets dark, I really do not like to be walking alone," said student Lucy Miller. "I really would not recommend walking alone. I don't want my roommate to do it either. Both of us try not to."
Many students on campus said that they like the idea of increased security, and admit that they could do more to practice safety when they're out at night.
"I often find myself in the library pretty late at night and my parents wouldn't like me saying this, but sometimes I just walk home alone," said student Caroline Allbert.