UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member killed in shooting inside Caudill Labs

Tuesday, August 29, 2023
UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member killed in shooting inside Caudill Labs
A faculty member was shot and killed at UNC-Chapel Hill, leaving students and staff shaken. A suspect was taken into custody in a neighborhood north of campus.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A faculty member was shot and killed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Monday.

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz confirmed the news at 5:45 p.m. via a written statement to the UNC community. The faculty member's identity is not being publicized until the family has been notified.

UNC Police said the suspected shooter in the case is in custody, but the suspect's identity is not being released because formal criminal charges have not yet been filed. The weapon used in the shooting has not yet been found.

"The lockdown of the campus remained while police verified the suspect's identity and conducted a comprehensive search for the weapon that was used in the shooting, which at this time, has not been located," UNC Police Chief Brian James said.

Classes at UNC were canceled on Monday and Tuesday. Caudill Laboratory, where the shooting happened, will be closed until further notice.

WATCH: UNC officials hold news conference after deadly campus shooting

FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: UNC officials held a briefing after the deadly campus shooting. They confirmed a faculty member was killed.

"I am devastated and saddened by today's shooting in one of our campus buildings, a place where we conduct our important work of teaching, mentoring, and research every day. This shooting damages the trust and safety that we so often take for granted on our campus," Guskiewicz said in a statement.

James said the incident began at 1:02 p.m. when a 911 call alerted officers to a shooting inside Caudill Labs, which is located just across South Road from the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower.

Alert Carolina issued an emergency alert and sirens on campus rang out at 1:04 p.m. Officers then arrived at Caudill Labs and found the victim.

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"This is the only fatality and no other injuries were reported," James said.

Another Alert Carolina message went out around 2 p.m. saying that the campus was on lockdown for "the active assailant situation."

James said the suspect was taken into custody at 2:31 p.m.

At 2:35 p.m., James' department posted a warning on social media about a person of interest wanted in the case.

The university remained on lockdown until 4:15 p.m.

"The lockdown of the campus remained while police verified the suspect's identity and conducted a comprehensive search for the weapon that was used in the shooting, which at this time, has not been located," James said.

James said the investigation remains open and active. He said it was too early to say what the motive was behind the shooting.

WATCH: Lockdown lifted after more than 3 hours

The lockdown was lifted after three tense hours on UNC's campus but many questions remain.

"We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation, and we will provide as many updates as we can," James said.

Police tracked the suspect to a neighborhood north of UNC's campus off MLK Boulevard. ABC11 crews spoke to people living in a neighborhood who described seeing police officers chasing a man through the neighborhood and eventually capturing him.

One man saw the police activity right in front of his house.

"I got home from work, I didn't really know what to expect, all I see is this guy walking up the street," Mario Villa told ABC11.

He took a video of the moment the man was handcuffed, placed into a police car, and taken to the station. Police have not confirmed whether that person is the one suspected in the UNC shooting.

"He sat down, laid on the floor, and I saw the cop cars walking around investigating," Villa said. "Eventually one of the cops came up here and they were looking around, my dog was barking out so I had to investigate. This doesn't happen in a typical day at UNC."

The man detained was actually the second person taken into custody on the day. However, the first one was questioned and quickly released.

"There was another person that was detained, and we determined very quickly that was not the suspect," James said.

A car found in a parking lot near South Road and Estes Drive is part of the investigation. Another missing piece is the gun that the suspect apparently tossed somewhere between campus and the neighborhood.

"I had the grill on, turned off the grill, locked the house, got a little spooked," Villa said.

As the lockdown and uncertainty unfolded, one student told ABC11 that she barricaded herself inside a bathroom in the Student Union along with several others and waited for hours in the dark.

"No one knew what was going on," Bailey Hughes said. "The first thing I did, I know I called my mom, told her I loved her just in case."

It's not how Hughes, a freshman from Williamston, imagined her time at UNC would begin.

"I've only been here a week," Hughes said. "You know, like, you come to college getting away from your hometown looking for something new not for some, a tragedy like this to happen on a Monday. I had just gotten out of my classes."

Some students were seen jumping out of windows to get to what they perceived as safety.

"Locked the doors, put all the bookbags against the doors, we're all at the end of the bathroom in the big stall just, I know I had a girl praying over me," Hughes said."

Another student said not knowing what was happening elicited the most anxiety.

"The scariest part wasn't fearing for myself, but really not knowing what was going on or what to do next," said sophomore Amena Matcheswala.

She said the initial shock quickly gave way to a somber understanding of exactly what was taking place outside their door.

"You could feel it in the room. The more and more we realized how real it was, we went from sitting there on social media to barricading doors," she said.

Late Monday night, FBI and local law enforcement officlals continued to gather evidence inside the room where the shots rang out, a bullet hole still visible in the window.

UNC said that it will open a hotline starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday for concerned parents, loved ones, and community members who have questions. The number is (919) 918-1999

Chapel-Hill-Carrboro Schools placed all its campuses and offices on a "Secure Mode," which meant all building doors were closed and locked after the UNC alert went out. Classes inside continued as usual.

Buses lined up as dismissal time approached at schools but remained in place until the all-clear was given.

All afterschool activities were canceled for the day.

Finally, at 3:40 p.m., school officials said they received the all-clear and began dismissal.

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Parents react to lockdowns at Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools as deadly shooting unfolded at UNC-Chapel Hill.