NCCU police fatally shoot gunman

Sep. 24, 2013 @ 07:57 PM

Law enforcement and campus officials assured students, faculty and staff that the campus was safe Tuesday after N.C. Central University police fatally shot a man late Monday.

“The campus remains safe,” said Chancellor Debra Saunders-White during a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday morning. “We have no students who were engaged or involved or near the incident.”

The fatal shooting happened in a wooded area near the School of Education, NCCU Police Chief Timothy Bellamy said.

Bellamy said Durham police had been seeking the suspect in connection with a residential break-in, in which weapons and other property were stolen, and an armed robbery downtown that both occurred earlier Monday. NCCU police learned a man matching the suspect’s description had gotten off a bus near campus, and they responded to the area of Cecil and Lincoln streets. The campus was locked down at 10:15 p.m.

NCCU officers approached the man and started talking to him, university officials said. The man pulled a shotgun from his waist and fired shots in the direction of officers, and they returned fire.

The Durham Police Department’s K9 unit arrived to help find the suspect, who was spotted in the woods and ordered to surrender.

There was a second exchange of gunfire with three NCCU officers, and the suspect was killed. Police have not released his identity, but Bellamy described him as a black male who was not a student. He said he wasn’t sure how many shots were fired or how many bullets hit the gunman.

Bellamy said that apparently, more than one person was involved in the break-in and robbery. He said police saw no other suspects on campus, but acknowledged that they might have been there.

Monday’s incident was the third time since July that a police officer in Durham has fatally shot an armed suspect. On Sept. 17, Durham police shot a distraught, armed man at CCB Plaza after an hourlong standoff. On July 27, police shot Jose Ocampo during a stabbing call in East Durham. All three incidents are being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Bellamy said Durham police have assigned two extra officers to the NCCU campus for the next four days, and additional NCCU officers are being brought in to work.

“We’re also increasing our foot and bike patrols,” Bellamy said.

“Our campus was safe yesterday and it was safe this morning, and it will be safe tonight,” Bellamy said.

But Bellamy also acknowledged that many people venture onto the campus, some of whom pose an interest to police.

“What we are finding is that non-students, and mostly with a criminal history or criminal backgrounds, are coming through our campus on foot or by vehicle,” Bellamy said.

The NCCU police force strike team, which patrols NCCU in civilian clothes and questions people who shouldn’t be on campus, stops an average of six suspicious people a night, and most have outstanding warrants, he said.

NCCU senior Taylor Terry said Tuesday morning that she learned about the shooting Monday night from NCCU’s Twitter feed.

“I feel kind of safer,” Terry said about the NCCU police response. “I never heard of them actually killing someone. That shocked me the most. … They’re willing to step it up.”

But NCCU mass communications senior Michael Harris said this incident shows that anyone can roam onto campus. “I feel like we should have a gated community, block the campus off from the rest of the community,” he said.

The officers involved in Monday night’s shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting. NCCU has not released their names.