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Search dogs picked up and followed a suspected gunman’s scent on a road at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the campus chief of police said. Chief David Donaldson stated that the dogs unfortunately lost the suspect’s scent during an overnight search.
Classes have been continuing normally, even though the gunman reportedly fled to the college after a holdup, where he is thought to have escaped by car. The suspect robbed four people at a fast food restaurant and was still on the loose early last Tuesday. Students are allowed to attend classes and walk around the campus freely, but they were told to stay alert and report any suspicious activity they see.
The students that live on campus were advised to lock their doors and be extra cautious. Wilmington police used a K-9 unit and a helicopter to hunt down the criminal, who reportedly wore a red cloth over his face and was carrying a handgun. Extra police officers have been assigned to the campus as well. Dana Fischetti, the school’s spokeswoman, said that instructions were announced that advised students to stay in secure places, not long after the armed robbery.
Two safety alerts were posted on the school’s website, warning students that a gunman may be on campus. The warning was lifted the next day at five in the morning and was used as a “precautionary measure,” according to Donaldson. Police officers canvassed the area and went through the campus’ buildings, including the residence halls.
The college is located on the coastline of North Carolina and is distinguished for its marine research programs. Around 13,000 students attend UNC, and the number has grown since 2002. The school is also sometimes used as a training camp for the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.
Last August, there was an incident with another gunman on campus. The school’s emergency alert system failed to notify students as the police searched for the suspect of the shooting at a close by apartment complex, which drew concerns from officials at the university. Donaldson had ordered a campus-wide alert to go out through students’ phones and e-mail, but it was never sent.
Officials believe this was due to human error, not a technical difficulty. The university’s emergency alert system also has the ability to interrupt television on campus and alert students through social media outlets. It was first adopted following the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech to alert students of emergencies through many different ways in a minimal amount of time.