CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — A shooter killed a faculty member in a science building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday, police said after a lockdown paralyzed the campus community as authorities searched for a suspect.
Police arrested the suspect about an hour and a half after the initial reports of shots fired came in from Caudill Labs, officials said at a news conference. Charges were pending, and the suspect was not immediately identified.
University officials also did not immediately identify the staffer who was killed and said it was too soon to offer a possible motive.
“This loss is devastating, and the shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted in our campus community,” Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said.
Emergency sirens sounded about two minutes after a 911 caller reported gunfire at the laboratory in the heart of the flagship campus, UNC Police Chief Brian James said.
Students and faculty barricaded themselves in dorm rooms, offices and classrooms until the lockdown was lifted over three hours later.
No other injuries were reported.
Adrian Lanier, a sophomore computer science major, told The Associated Press that he and others sat against a wall in a gym, trying to stay as far away as possible from doors and windows as rumors spread.
“No one really felt safe enough to leave. I didn’t,” Lanier said.
Oliver Katz, an exchange student from Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, said some students crowded into gym locker rooms to get away from windows while others crouched in corners and sat on the floor, he said.
“This never happens where I’m from,” Katz said. “It was intense. But I was a little surprised that other people weren’t panicking that much.”
Katz, who has only been on campus for two weeks, said he’s worried his home university will bring the exchange students back early. “I don’t want to leave. I like it here, and I do still feel safe.”
During the news conference, Guskiewicz apologized to students who are “feeling uncertain about your safety right now.”
James, the campus police chief, said it was unclear if the suspect knew the victim. He also said the weapon has not been found.
“We are looking for a firearm. It is too early to determine if the firearm was legally obtained,” he said.
Classes had started at the Chapel Hill campus a week ago. The university, with about 20,000 undergraduate students and 12,000 graduate students, canceled Tuesday classes.
The nearby Chapel Hill-Carrboro City district also locked down its schools for several hours as a precaution.
During the lockdown, a student told TV station WTVD that she had barricaded her dormitory door with her furniture. Another student, speaking softly, described hiding in fear with others in a dark bathroom.
Noel T. Brewer, a professor of health behavior and a 57-year-old married father of two, told the AP by phone — as he hid with colleagues in his locked office during the lockdown — that he was once held at gunpoint in his mother’s jewelry store, but that Monday’s events were “far more stressful.”
Robertson reported from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Rankin reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.