WJTV News Channel 12 - Officer-involved shooting near NCCU campus, gunman killed

Officer-involved shooting near NCCU campus, gunman killed

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Police respond to a report of gunshots fired near NCCU's campus. Police respond to a report of gunshots fired near NCCU's campus.
DURHAM, N.C. -

The search for a gunman near the campus of North Carolina Central University put the school on lockdown late Monday night and ended in an officer-involved shooting where the suspect was killed.

A SWAT team was on campus early Tuesday morning to search for a suspect believed to have a gun. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez was also on scene.

The university issued the lockdown around 10:15 p.m. Monday after officials were notified the suspect may have been on campus.

Chief of NCCU Police Tim Bellamy said that the suspect was involved in a breaking and entering at a nearby residence where "numerous handguns" were stolen, among other items. An armed robbery involving the same suspect was then reported shortly after the breaking and entering.

After receiving a description of the suspects, an unarmed campus security officer observed a suspect matching the description and having some of the property taken during burglary and robbery.

"Three of our officers got together and responded to the scene near Lincoln and Cecil Street," Bellamy said. "At that time, they approached on foot and challenged the suspect. They gave all the legal commands that they are trained to do in a tactical manner."

Bellamy added, "The suspect turned toward our officers, at which time he produced a shotgun, racked the chamber -- which means put one inside the chamber -- fired the weapon toward our officers."

A second exchange of gunfire took place and the suspect was shot and killed by the officers near Cecil Street and Lincoln Street just off campus.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bellamy said the incident is under investigation, but another suspect may have been involved in the burglary and robbery.

Campus police said the initial alert was sent out as a test alert as a human error, but that was quickly corrected.

"Initially when this all was going off, obviously this was a very fluid event and the communicator who was working hit the wrong button," said Sgt. Robert McLaughlin, with NCCU Police. "That's the only way I can explain it. She immediately corrected it so that we got the right message sent out, but it was just human error. That happens."

The lockdown was not lifted by the university until around 1 a.m. Tuesday to ensure that there were no other suspects. Students and other staff were asked to avoid the areas near the School of Education until given an all-clear by campus police.

"All activities and classes in the School of Education building will be temporarily relocated on Tuesday," said NCCU Chancellor Debra Saunders-White in a statement to students and staff.

The university is also offering counseling services and a town hall meeting will be held.

"I applaud the NCCU Police for their responsiveness and vigilance in keeping our campus safe. NCCU is committed to supporting our community during this time," said Saunders-White.

Bellamy said that campus police stop, on average, about six people each night who have no business on campus. Most of those, he said, have warrants out for their arrest.

"We do have some issues with crime, but overall our violent crime is very minimum, very low on this campus," Bellamy said.

The three officers involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave. The State Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation.

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