False active shooter scare reported at UNC Charlotte, CMPD says

CHARLOTTE — Police are investigating a false active shooter scare at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Around noon on Thursday, the university asked people to avoid police activity near the College of Education building.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said they helped evacuate a building at the request of university police. They said there is no evidence of an active shooter.

“All students and staff are safe,” CMPD said.

Around 12:20 p.m., the university said the situation had ended, but said there may still be police in the area.

UNC Charlotte officials later said CMPD was called to the school just before noon. The callers said they heard gunfire in or near the College of Education building.

CMPD told university police, and officers from both departments went to the scene. When they arrived, they heard no gunfire, and after sweeping the area multiple times, they found no threats.

‘What if the worst scenario happens?’

Some students said they didn’t know how to react.

“I heard a lot of sirens and police cars,” sophomore Adina Muratovic said. “And I was the first one to look outside the window and I see so many cops running outside with guns, pistols, and rifles. And it was a very scary experience.”

Muratovic was on the third floor of the health science building at the time. Her instincts sprung her into action.

“I told my classmates ‘hey guys, we need to lock down.’ So the teachers locked down the door,” she said. “So we sat, and we were just really scared ‘cause we didn’t know what was happening.”

Junior Egypt James said she was at home when she got the emergency alert from UNC Charlotte.

“I kind of just stared at my phone in disbelief wondering what was going to happen now,” she said. “Was my class going to be canceled?”

James and others also thought about the deadly mass shooting on campus in 2019.

“My mind goes immediately to, what if the worst scenario happens?” James said.

Now, investigators are looking into whether the incident was the result of a false report. Muratovic hopes everyone can learn something from the day.

“I definitely wish we had more of a warning beforehand, ‘cause it took them some while to tell us what was happening,” she said.

She said it took 20 minutes between the time everything started until she received a message explaining what happened. Channel 9′s Tina Terry asked the university if they could speed up their student notification times, but did not hear back in time for her report.

VIDEO: Treat every threat like it’s the real thing

“A lot of people don’t realize it takes some time to clear those calls,” said Lee Ratliff, founder of Professional Security Services. “Meaning that you actually, physically, have to go through and verify all the information that has been presented to you.”

Ratliff, a former CMPD officer, said officers must treat every threat like it’s legit.

“The good thing about it is a lot of times you have partners, and I’ll give some examples, like some of the schools, some of the hospitals have partners, so they have resources there that can help you and know the landscape of the land,” Ratliff said.

Police have not said if the false threat was a swatting call but said they’re looking into every possibility.

Three high schools, including North Meck, West Charlotte, and Julius Chambers, were placed on lockdown the day before because of threats.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spokesperson said the district believes those were swatting calls.

Ratliff stresses the emergency system is one that always needs to be taken seriously, especially during a real crisis.

“If you see something, say something,” Ratliff said. “That is still the model that we’re trying to share with the community.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Police and Public Safety at 704-687-8300.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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