Local News

Suspected Gunman, Girlfriend Arrested After Wesleyan College Altercation

Posted March 28, 2008 12:11 a.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2008 5:34 a.m. EDT

— A man accused of carrying a loaded gun onto the N.C. Wesleyan College campus and firing shots nearby was arrested Thursday evening.

Vertron Dickens, 22, was charged with discharging a firearm within the city limits and possessing a weapon on campus.

Dickens' girlfriend, Wesleyan student Joy Anthony, was also charged with inciting a riot and obstruction. Police say Anthony, 18, called Dickens after she allegedly was harassed by a group of students outside a tattoo parlor Wednesday afternoon.

Rocky Mount police said they received a call at 5:23 p.m. Wednesday about an argument in a parking lot near the Wesleyan campus. About an hour later, someone on campus reported hearing a gunshot.

Police said that gunshot came from a weapon fired by Dickens. After hearing about the altercation with his girlfriend, he wielded a weapon and fired at least one shot in a Food Lion parking lot about 100 yards from the campus, police said.

The owner of Ink Sinkers Hall Tattoo Shop on Stone Rose Drive, near U.S. 301, said he witnessed the gunfire.

“I was working at the computer and heard what sounded like a firecracker. I looked up and saw a man with his hand out a window pulling the trigger twice on a pistol," Brian Warwick said.

Police said they found no evidence of or witnesses to the incident Wednesday.

A student reportedly came forward Thursday, identifying Anthony as the student involved in the incident.

The school was never on lockdown and students were not notified because school officials were unaware of the incident until Thursday morning.

Late Thursday evening, however, the college issued a statement acknowledging the altercation.

"Although the security and safety of our campus was maintained throughout these incidents, it is incumbent on the college to deal forcefully with those who fail to recognize their obligations to live peaceably in an academic environment," Wesleyan College President Dr. Ian Newbould said in the statement.

The news of the gunshot spread quickly across campus Thursday. Extra security measures put some students on edge.

“A little bit, but not too bad considering it didn't happen on campus,” Wesleyan student James Vincent said when asked if he was upset.

The college is trying to determine which students, other than Anthony, were involved in the incident.

Anthony posted bond and was out of jail. Her first court appearance was scheduled for May 1.

Dickens was held in the Rocky Mount Jail Thursday. He posted $2,000 bond early Friday was released from jail. His first court appearance was scheduled for March 28.