NCCU regroups at town hall

April 9, 2024

One day after last Tuesday’s shooting at Lawson Street Residence Hall that injured one student, N.C. Central University provided a “safe space” for students to ask questions and receive an update on the investigation.

Before presenting the timeline of events at the shooting, students were informed that the injured Eagle suffered no life-threatening injuries and was resting at Duke University Hospital with his family.

NCCU Chief of Police, Damon Williams, said that Tuesday night’s events proved that there was a strong relationship between the police and NCCU’s student body.

“You guys [students] made the difference that night,” Williams said.

Timeline

According to Williams, at approximately 10:06 p.m., NCCU Police began receiving reports of possible gunshots in Lawson. One caller said that it sounded like “firecrackers, but people were running.”

Williams said an officer who was preparing to conduct a security check in the building was informed of the call.

“The officer immediately recognized that a popping sound and people running is not normal,” Williams said. “He went and retrieved his long rifle and made his way toward the fourth floor.”

Around the same time, the victim, who was injured at this point, headed towards Durham EMS, who were already on scene for an unrelated call.

“He headed down the stairs because he saw flashing lights,” Williams said. “Upon seeing the victim, EMS recognized the situation and began to treat him and send him to the hospital.”

At 10:23 p.m., the campus-wide lockdown was announced, and NCCU police began to search all the rooms in Lawson. However, upon hearing this information, many Eagles in attendance rebutted Willliams’ claims.

“Nobody checked my room,” one Eagle said, prompting others to agree.

Williams said that it’s a major error that not all rooms were searched and that’s something he will investigate.

New Student Center

Once the campus lockdown was in effect, Eagles who were outside of their dorms were unable to enter their residential halls. An 11:53 p.m. announcement informed everyone that the New Student Center was open for those “seeking refuge.”

Williams said that the building was the farthest from the incident, which made it the safest for students to stay. Moreover, the student center is relatively easy to lockdown.

SGA President, Cameron Emery, said he was in the student center at the time.

“We had officers present and Dean Hartfield was there. It became a space for the students,” Emery said.

Wednesday

Eagles were disappointed that, despite Tuesday night’s events, classes went forward. Angela Coleman, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said that the decision was made by academic affairs and the provost.

“There was not a decision made regarding last night,” Coleman said.

“There was communication to faculty to allow them to have the autonomy to cancel classes.”

While some classes continued as scheduled, some courses were cancelled due to Tuesday night’s events.

Another thing that concerned students was the decision to immediately return to campus tours, with a few occurring while the town hall was taking place.

Corey Edmonds, assistant director in Undergraduate Admissions, took responsibility for the tours.

“I would like to apologize to the entire campus body,” Edmonds said. “There’s several levels above me who made that call.

“In my opinion, we shouldn’t have had tours. I had the list of every person, every group that could have been canceled, but unfortunately, I didn’t have that authority.”

Emery said that despite this situation, NCCU needs to keep operations on track.

“This is still a business, we’re still bringing students in,” Emery said. “We work with undergraduate admissions to make sure we’re not putting anyone in the danger zone, but operations must continue.”

Next Steps

Williams said that moving forward, NCCU will continue to educate everyone on campus about maintaining a safe environment.

“The wrong people come into our buildings because we let them in,” Williams said. “It takes 8,000 people to protect 8,000 people.”

Director of Residential Life, Jeremi Cheeks, speaks to students at Wednesday’s town hall. Photo by Chris Frazier.

After the meeting, NCCU Residential Life sent a message to the student body, reiterating visitation policies and saying if an Eagle violates them, their housing will be cancelled.

Jeremi Cheeks, director of Residential Life, said that because it’s a violation of policy, housing can be lost without going through the code of conduct process.

“It’s a violation of contract, so if you get caught … you are liable for losing your housing,” Cheeks said. “Immediately, no questions asked, no due process, it’s a breach of contract.”

In the meantime, Eagles can expect the SGA Executive Board to visit their residence halls and host fireside chats on safety.

“We realized that we have to meet you where you at,” Emery said. “We want boots on the ground. And we want to hear what you want to say.”

A student survey will also be posted on the SGA social media page for student concerns.

The investigation into shooting continues. It’s unclear what led to the gunshots and Williams said that he would not discuss it until the investigation is over. What is known is that NCCU Police has identified all the persons of interest via the Lawson cameras and is seeking arrest warrants.

“We will not live in fear,” Williams said. “We’ve been here since 1910, and we will continue to be here.”

UPDATE – 4/11/2024 – 1:00 p.m – Campus Echo learned that NCCU Student, Eric Randall, has been charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon.

According to NCCU Law Professor, Irving Joyner, the charges Randall has, involve two or more individuals creating an agreement to commit a crime against a person or party and to use physical force to accomplish the goal.

NCCU Police said that more arrests are coming and Randall’s charges on conspiracy definitely point in that direction.

The investigation is ongoing and the Campus Echo will continue to provide updates when more becomes available.

 

 

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