• SBI special unit discusses deadly attacks it has prevented across NC

    By: Allison Latos

    Updated:

    RALEIGH, N.C. - A special unit with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation works hard every day to stop mass violence in the state.

    [PAST COVERAGE: State investigators to launch new program to identify mass violence risks]

    Agents with the Behavioral Threat Assessment (BeTA) Unit dig through social media, citizen complaints and tips from police departments with the goal of stopping deadly attacks anywhere crowds gather.

    The special team has agents in charge of protecting the more than 250,000 students and faculty at all of the University of North Carolina campuses. The UNC system and SBI created the unit in December.

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    Agent Brent Herron told Channel 9's Allison Latos that the Beta Unit's goal is to identify people planning attacks, figure out why and get them the help they need before anyone gets hurt.

    Herron is in charge of campus safety at 16 North Carolina universities.

    After two students were killed and four others injured when 22-year-old Trystan A. Terrell opened fire on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last month, agents said they always worry about copycats.

    “Always worried about copycats and our campuses are unique,” Herron said.

    Safety is a top concern for many.

    “It was in the back of my head a lot,” said Jordan Arroyo, N.C. State alum.

    SBI director Robert Schurmeier said the unit already has 35 cases and received eight new cases just last week.

    “The cases we’ve handled, so far, involve people who aren’t even in high school yet -- all the way to their 50s,” Schurmeier said. “It involves educational institutions, churches, places of employment and government institutions."

    He said there's no doubt the BeTA unit stopped potential shooters.

    Every UNC campus police department has at least one officer trained by the BeTA unit.

    The BeTA unit doesn't press charges against everyone they investigate. Its primary goal is to get people the resources they need, such as mental health.

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