Local News

Not Using WolfAlert System After Robberies Questioned

Posted March 12, 2008 6:51 p.m. EDT
Updated March 13, 2008 6:09 a.m. EDT

— 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.