UNC Police Make Arrest In Social Media Bomb Threat

**UPDATE** UNC’s Department of Public Safety has announced that they have made an arrest in conjunction with the bomb threat. A statement released on Alert Carolina at 5:00 pm reads: “The Department of Public Safety has made an arrest in its investigation into threats to campus safety made early Thursday morning on social media.  As stated earlier today, there is no threat to the campus at this time.  Students, staff, and faculty should go about their normal routines.”

A warning posted Wednesday on the anonymous messaging service Yik Yak had UNC students worried. The message warned of a possible explosion in the Pit on campus at noon, followed by a message posting the address of Columbine high school.

The original post read: “To all my friends, don’t be in the Pit tomorrow at noon. Things will be getting a big explosive.”

yikyak threat

Yik Yak is a location-based messaging app that allows users to post without identifying themselves. It’s popular on college campuses around the country. But while messages may appear anonymous, the developers of the app say some information, such as a user’s IP address, will be collected and could be turned over to authorities.

Coming on the heels of a shooting at Florida State University on Wednesday night that left the gunman dead and three students injured, students at UNC took to social media to voice their concerns about school safety and their frustrations with the Alert Carolina warning system.

From Overheard at UNC:

-Why is AlertCarolina not saying something about this? Even if they don’t have it figured out yet they should at least let us know that someone is looking into the issue. We shouldn’t  have to rely on social media for all our information about something like this.

-Serious question: should we go to classes in the Pit area around that time, or is it worth emailing professors and staying home? I don’t think you can be too cautious about a bomb threat, or any threat of violence on a college campus, but I wish I had more official info.

From Yik Yak:

-My mother actually told me to skip my chem lab final and stay in my apartment

-Maybe Alert Carolina should start using yik yak. More people would probably read their updates.

This is not the first time the Pit has been targeted for violence. In 2006, Mohammed Taheri-azar drove a rented SUV into the courtyard where students gather, injuring nine people. He was later sentenced to serve up to 33 years in prison on two counts of attempted murder.

Thursday morning, the university released a statement on Alert Carolina to let students know police officers were aware of the threat and investigating it, but officials stressed that with no active threat on campus there was no need to change daily routines.

From Alert Carolina:

11/20/14, 9:30 a.m.

Timely Warning: Police Investigating Social Media Claims; Continue Normal Activity

The Department of Public Safety is aware of and investigating threats to campus safety made overnight on social media.

Police say there is no threat to campus at this time.

The campus is operating under normal conditions. Students, faculty and staff are advised to continue their normal routines.

The Alert Carolina website will be updated as soon as more information is available. It could take hours for police to resolve a situation depending upon the circumstances. Meantime, if you are directed by police or University personnel to take specific action (evacuate a building, stay out of a certain part of campus, go to your residence hall and stay there), please comply immediately.

If you see suspicious activity, call 911. But do not call 911 or the Department of Public Safety merely to ask for information about the current incident. Police phone lines need to be kept open for emergency communications. Anyone with information about this incident should call the Department of Public Safety 919-962-8100.

Students and employees can let their families know they are okay in the event of an emergency while keeping cell phone lines open for emergency calls by using the American Red Cross Safe and Well list. The Safe and Well list is especially helpful in communicating with family members who are outside the emergency area: www.redcross.org/safeandwell.

Students who are in need of medical attention should go to Campus Health Services campushealth.unc.edu) or the UNC Hospitals Emergency Room. Faculty and staff in need of medical attention should go to the UNC Hospitals Emergency Room.

A range of support services for students is available through the Office of the Dean of Students, deanofstudents.unc.edu/.

Counseling Services for students are available at UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, campushealth.unc.edu/caps. For a concern about a coworker, call Employee and Management Relations in Human Resources (hr.unc.edu/employee-management-relations/) or 919-843-3444, or the University’s Employee Assistance Program (services provided by ComPsych 24 hours a day), 877-314-5841.

Questions about sexual assault can be directed to Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Coordinator, Ew Quimbaya-Winship, 919-843-3878.

For community services, call UNC Department of Public Safety Crime Prevention Officer Sgt. Megan Howard, at 919-966-3230.


UNC Provides Students Public Safety App

Alert Carolina announced Wednesday that the University of North Carolina is providing students with a new phone app that acts as a personal safety device.

According to a news release, the Rave Guardian Campus Safety App creates an online safety network that allows students to check in with family, friends, Department of Public Safety officers and other trusted resources for providing assistance on campus and around town.

The app includes a timer that alerts public safety and designated friends or family members if the timer isn’t turned off when the user arrives at an unfamiliar place.

Rave Guardian users may also contact UNC Public Safety directly if help is needed; and send text messages, including photos, to report any suspicious activity.

A personal Smart 911 safety profile on the app may include crucial medical and residential information that can be displayed to UNC Public Safety officers as well as 911 centers nationwide when a student is in need of assistance.

The app can be downloaded on both Apple and Android devices, and is provided free of charge.

You can find links to download the app here.


DPS Investigating Three Thefts In Student Dorms

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Department of Public Safety is investigating reports of three burglaries late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

The three burglaries occurred at Ruffin Residential Hall on UNC campus.  Preliminary police investigations have revealed that, in each case, a suspect reportedly entered rooms on the third floor of Ruffin through unlocked doors and took items including wallets, cash, credit/debit cards, and keys.

The Department of UNC Housing and Residential Education is deactivating any room keys or residence hall key fobs reportedly missing.

UNC Police are asking anyone with information about these incidents to call UNC Police Department at 919-962-8100 or contact Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515. Calls are confidential and anonymous.  You can also submit information to Crime Stoppers online at www.crimestoppers-chcunc.org.


BOG Addresses Substances On Campus

CHAPEL HILL – Earlier this year Governor Pat McCrory challenged the UNC Board of Governors to look at its substance abuse challenges on campus.

Vice Chairman, Frank Grainger, engaged with Governor Pat McCrory, head of the ABC Jim Gardner, Frank Perry from Public Safety, and a few others on Sept. 4 about the strong presence of drugs and alcohol on campus.

“It appears that drugs are becoming more and more prevalent on our campuses” Grainger said.

Grainger says that campuses across the state have been seeing a higher level of substances because drug “pushers” are moving away from the areas they used to frequent.

“Drugs pushers are moving to the campuses more than to the urban parts of the cities now, because they feel that the campuses have more money on them, etcetera and is an easier push for them,” Grainger stated “and the Governor is not messing around with this.”

Another meeting between the Board of Governors and Governor McCrory is scheduled for Tuesday.  Grainger says they plan on working with the campus police chiefs, ABC, and Public safety to coordinate and work together on this issue.

“The president and I have been talking and we’re going to bring all of our police campus chiefs together and let them tell us what’s going on, on their particular campuses so we can report this back” Grainger said.

Along with the drug “pushers,” stores that supply underage students with alcohol will be targeted as a source of the problem.  Working with the ABC and public safety will allow for the BoG to challenge the substances that are coming to campuses.

The next Board of Governor’s meeting is October 11 and will discuss the  September 17 meeting with Governor Pat McCrory.


UNC Police Chiefs Oppose Concealed-Carry Bill

CHAPEL HILL – On Monday, the police chiefs from each of UNC’s 17 campuses co-signed a joint statement opposing NC House Bill 937, which would allow individuals with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto campus.

UNC-Chapel Hill Police Chief Jeff McCracken was among the signees.

Passed by the State House last month, the bill would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their guns on college and university campuses. Private colleges and universities would retain the right to prohibit guns on their campus, but public institutions (like UNC) would have to allow them.

UNC system president Tom Ross has already spoken out against the bill—sparking criticism in response from gun-rights advocates. Now, campus law enforcement officials are following Ross in opposition.

The joint statement reads in part: “We believe passage of this bill would increase the risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors…The potential risk to those on campus far outweighs the convenience to concealed-carry permit holders.”

House Bill 937 passed the State House last month by a 76-38 vote along party lines. It’s currently awaiting passage by the State Senate.

The full statement is below.

Opinion Statement – House Bill 937

Chief Gunther Doerr, Appalachian State University Police
Acting Chief Jason Sugg, East Carolina University Police
Interim Chief John Manley, Elizabeth City State University Police
Chief Robert Hassell, Fayetteville State University Police
Chief Glenn Newell, North Carolina A&T State University Police
Chief Tim Bellamy, North Carolina Central University Police
Chief Jack Moorman, North Carolina State University Police
Chief Eric Boyce, University of North Carolina at Asheville Police
Chief Jeff McCracken, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Police
Chief Jeff Baker, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Police
Chief Jamie Herring, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Police
Chief McDuffie Cummings, University of North Carolina at Pembroke Police
Chief David Donaldson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington Police
Chief Deb Cheesebro, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Police
Chief Earnest Hudson, Western Carolina University Police
Chief Pat Norris, Winston-Salem State University Police
Security Director Rick Hess, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Chief Emily West, North Carolina Arboretum Police
Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Emergency Operations Brent Herron, UNC General Administration

The police chiefs of the 17 UNC campuses oppose the provision of House Bill 937 that would allow handguns on our campuses. We believe passage of this bill would increase the risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Studies show that university campuses are consistently safer and experience significantly less crime than surrounding communities.

Some of our universities have middle schools and high schools on their campuses, and many of our universities host summer youth camps. This bill would allow concealed-weapon permit holders to bring their handguns onto these venues.

According to HB 937, private colleges and universities would have the authority to decide whether or not they allowed handguns on their campuses. This bill would have a disparate impact on public colleges and universities, as we would not have the same discretion and authority that private colleges do. Currently 45 states either ban guns on campuses or allow universities the discretion to choose whether or not to ban guns.

In the event of a campus emergency, it is possible that concealed-carry permit holders may feel empowered to retrieve their handguns, thereby complicating and potentially hindering law enforcement response on a crowded campus.

The potential risk to those on campus far outweighs the convenience to concealed-carry permit holders. We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision from HB 937 that would allow guns on university campuses.