On Monday at 1:03 p.m., warning sirens went off and an Alert Carolina message went out alerting the campus community of an “Armed and Dangerous Person On or Near Campus."
UNC Police advised students and faculty to shelter in place and wait for the all-clear, which came from a different Alert Carolina message at 4:14 p.m.
Perhaps UNC and Chapel Hill Police were inadequately prepared for a crisis like this, resulting in further chaos and stress for students. In a world threatened by gun violence daily, students deserve more support. We deserve to be kept informed, we deserve dignity and we deserve to feel safe and protected.
A lack of information
Over a span of three hours, students received a total of four Alert Carolina messages. This was just one indication of how poorly informed students were at the time of the crisis.
Rumors floated around about what the shooter was doing and where he was; we heard that he was dressed as a police officer and knocking on classrooms, trying to gain entrance. We heard that he was holding hostages in Caudill labs. We heard that he had a driver who was moving him between North and South Campus.
Students could not answer frantic loved ones' "are you okay" texts accurately. They could not even provide them with information, because there was none. We could not even ensure for ourselves that we were going to be okay, because we were sitting in darkened basements, classrooms and dorm rooms, filling the void of facts with word-of-mouth updates from students, faculty and conflicting news reports. We were kept in the dark.
The ambiguity and lack of updates about who the suspect was also contributed to the misinformation. Images of one individual being taken into police custody were shared. People thought it was over at this point, and began to update loved ones. Shortly after that, claims that UNC Police arrested the wrong man began to spread, and we knew nothing all over again.