Businesses in Downtown Chapel Hill sheltered community members on Monday while UNC endured an active shooter situation and shelter-in-place warning. A faculty member at UNC was shot in Caudill Laboratories, causing the University to go into lockdown for just over three hours.
Laney Sheehan, an employee at Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews and a recent graduate of UNC, said she and others decided to move customers away from the front of the store and lock the front doors after the initial Alert Carolina.
"We kind of tried to stay away from, you know, any visibility and then we got the shelter-in-place announcement and I'm going to speak for myself but I was really freaked out," she said.
The initial announcement was sent out to UNC students, faculty and employees just after 1 p.m. on Monday and an update telling students to remain sheltered in place went out at 2:24 p.m. The all-clear wasn't issued until 4:14 p.m.
"For a while Franklin was just empty and silent, and the longer we all stayed in the lockdown I think it just got more tense," Sheehan said.
Sheehan and her coworkers brewed tea and gave out the food that the store had made for the day as the shelter in place went on. She said she and her co-workers didn't require people in the store to stay through the shelter in place, but strongly urged those who wanted to leave only to do so when they had safe transportation arranged.
"It was also very eerie, like we were all just waiting for something to happen," Sheehan said.
She said that when the shelter in place was lifted, people slowly left Epilogue, and community members and employees alike offered each other rides and support.
"It was a slow trickle out, although we also made it clear that if you don't feel ready to leave yet you don't have to," she said. "We're not kicking you out."