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Cluster of nationwide shootings highlights security

Last week, shootings at three U.S. college campuses left two students dead and another injured ­— marking a five-day stretch of school lockdowns and alerts across the nation.

South Carolina State University, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Widener University in Chester, Pa., each had shootings occur on their campuses.

A student was killed as a result of each of the shootings at both S.C. State and Purdue, and the shooting at Widener left a student critically injured.

The University of Oklahoma also went on lockdown last week when students and faculty received reports of a shooting on campus, which was eventually confirmed as a false alarm.

According to a survey of news results by The Huffington Post released earlier this month, 27 shootings occurred on or near U.S. college campuses in 2013.

Randy Young, spokesman for the UNC Department of Public Safety, said in the case of such an emergency, UNC’s first responders are well-trained and drilled.

“We extensively drill,” Young said. “We don’t do it in a vacuum, and we practice with other organizations both tabletop and active.”

Young said he could not go into any specific details about how DPS would handle an emergency involving a gunman on campus because of potential safety concerns.

Local authorities meet monthly to discuss and study events from across the nation, he said.

“We have not met specifically to address these recent events, and you can never totally prepare by looking at other events,” he said. “But you can learn from other events.”

DPS simulated an emergency involving a gunman last summer in Davis Library, joining emergency services officials from Chapel Hill and Orange County.

“In a community that has a lot of overlap and shared jurisdiction, it is hard not to envision a scene where other agencies are involved,” Young said.

In October, concealed carry permit holders gained the right to bring handguns onto UNC’s and other N.C. public university campuses — as long as the weapon is stored in a closed compartment or container within a locked car. The car must be in a public parking area.

DPS and other UNC-system officials had expressed concerns about the law.

Students across the country took to social media to express concern and fear about the multiple shootings last week.

But some UNC students said they were more concerned with Friday’s shooting on West Rosemary Street.

“Personally, I feel safe in my dorm on mid-campus. However, if I lived closer to Franklin and Rosemary Street, I would be much more concerned,” said sophomore Tulley Dominguez. “It is disturbing to know that shootings are going on near my University.”

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