UNC: Report of armed person near Chapel Hill campus was false alarm
Posted October 30, 2020 11:52 a.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2020 8:04 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials said Friday afternoon that authorities haven't been able to substantiate a report of an armed person that prompted a campus-wide alert earlier in the day.
Campus police were notified at 11:30 a.m. that someone had called Orange County 911 to report an armed person at UNC Hospitals' Ambulatory Care Center, on Mason Farm Road at the south edge of campus, Vice Chancellor George Battle said in a statement.
Although police had no confirmation about the report, UNC-Chapel Hill officials activated the Alert Carolina emergency system "out of an abundance of caution" and advised all students and staff on campus to get inside buildings, Battle said. The Ambulatory Care Center also was evacuated.
Police searched the building and the surrounding area, reviewed security camera footage and determined there was no armed person on campus, Battle said. About 40 minutes later after the alert was issued, officials issued an "all clear" signal, allowing everyone to return to their normal activities.
"The University has been actively investigating this incident in coordination with UNC Hospital Police and other law enforcement agencies. We have carefully analyzed video surveillance and interviewed witnesses on scene in an effort to thoroughly determine whether or not any individuals were present with a firearm," Battle said. "We recognize there was a gap in communication while the investigation was ongoing to confirm there was no threat on campus. We apologize to our campus community for the delay in communications about those details, but we want to make sure any information we share is as accurate and as complete as possible."
Janet and Michael McGinnis were among those at the Ambulatory Care Center during the incident.
"They moved us into a room with no windows, and later, they came back and said, 'We are moving to a more central area of the building,'" Janet McGinnis said. "They told us there was someone who had a gun."
“This was just a precaution. We were safe, and they had not found the person, and then they did sweeps of the facility several times," Michael McGinnis said. "We never felt unsafe. They were excellent."
Police did find an unspent bullet at the scene, but they determined that it belonged to one of the responding officers, Battle said.