The last day of classes for UNC Charolette students didn't end joyfully, as two are dead and four injured after a former student fired shots on campus.
Suspect Trystan Terrell started shooting in a classroom located in the college's Kennedy building at 5:40 p.m. A few minutes after the gunshots, a “NinerAlert” warned: “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately,” according to student newspaper, “The Niner Times.”
The Niner Times reported that students and professors took shelter, “locking and barricading doors, turning off lights and phoning loved ones.” University officials announced the suspect was in custody and campus secure at 7:45 p.m.
Celebrations for the last day of class had been planned, with rapper Waka Flocka Flame set to perform. The day became the opposite of a celebration, as Chancellor Phil Dubois called it “the saddest day in UNC Charolette's history.”
The Niner Times reported the story of Nick Brooks, who hid for over two hours in a Panda Express kitchen located on campus. While he was taking a study break at the fountain outside of the Kennedy building, he says the suspect, who he recognized from riding the light rail, a form of transportation to and from the university, looked suspicious as he walked on campus.
“It was like, ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and that’s when we all started to lay on the ground,” Brooks said. “You could feel the vibration. I don’t know if it was just, like, nerves. You could just feel it in your chest.”
Brooks told The Niner Times that after a student ran out of the building yelling about an active shooter, he grabbed his backpack and sprinted to Cone building, where he waited with roughly 35 people. “I’ve never run that fast in my life,” Brooks said.
The university is under suspended operations and exams have been canceled until Sunday.
How do you stay safe in an active shooter situation?
The shooting at UNC Charolette comes just over a year after rumors of an active shooter on UT's campus were spread via social media. Rumors remained rumors, but UT Police Chief Troy Lane said safety is of the utmost importance.
“Active shooting is, for most, on everyone's minds these days,” Lane said during a news conference. “This is something that we train on actively every year.”
UTPD offers active shooter classes and drills to teach a department or group on campus what to do in a situation and then perform a drill to practice what was taught. Classes can be requested here.
There are three main ways taught to respond to an active shooter situation: run, hide and fight. No matter where you are on campus, it's important to have an escape plan in mind. If you're inside a building and near the threat, get to cover as soon as possible. If you're outside, however, and feel confident that the shooter is not in your exit path, evacuate and take others with you, if possible. After reaching a safe place, keep your hands empty and visible while following police instruction and share all the information you have about the shooter.
Sometimes running is not an option, however. If you are inside a building and are unsure where the shooter is located, barricade. Barricading can include locking and covering doors with heavy furniture, staying away from doors or windows, turning off lights, blocking windows and keeping yourself out of sight. Silence your cell phone and quietly report to 911 your location, number of people with you and their injuries, and if you know anything about the assailant(s). If not able to speak, leave the line open for the dispatcher to listen.
If in immediate danger, the last resort is to fight and attempt to stop the attacker. Fighting works best as a group, if that is possible. Try to improvise weapons and be sure to commit to your actions by acting with physical aggression.
In most cases, you are responsible for your own safety in an active shooter situation, and are asked to take care of yourself first before helping others.
“Whether it’s to run, hide, fight– make your choice,” explosive detection and canine handler officer John Platt said during a lecture in September. “Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.”