'Somebody needs to be held accountable': No mass alerts sent out during Raleigh's active shooting

Samantha Kummerer Image
Thursday, October 20, 2022
No mass alerts sent out during Raleigh's active shooting that killed 5
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During the more than four-hour incident, police advised residents to remain indoors via Twitter, but some residents are questioning if more could have been done.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A week after a mass shooting in Raleigh, neighbors are asking why they weren't better alerted of a threat in their community by officials.

A 15-year-old opened fire in Raleigh's Hedingham neighborhood on Oct. 13 and killed five people. The shooting began around 5 p.m. and the teen was taken into custody at 9:30 p.m.

During the more than four-hour incident, police advised residents to remain indoors via Twitter, but some residents are questioning whether more could have been done.

"Tragically we lost five people, but who knows how many of those could have been saved if we would have been notified people told to get off the Greenway?" questioned Jerry Karth, who lives in the neighborhood across the river from the Greenway, just minutes from last week's shooting.

He said he was taking his trash out when he got a text from his neighbor alerting him of the active shooter.

"She found out because she was walking her dog and one of the neighbors yelled at her and said to get home, there's an active shooter out," Karth said. "That's the first anybody knew what was going on."

Posts on the community app Nextdoor revealed numerous other residents posing similar experiences and concerns.

"So... are alerts not a thing anymore? I thought we would have gotten some sort of text or emergency alert to those of us living in the area??" one neighbor wrote on Nextdoor. "I had to drive by that mess on New Bern Ave. earlier and was just curious enough to look up whether something had happened, I wouldn't have ever known!"

Many pointed to friends and neighbors who alerted them of the ongoing incident rather than the authorities.

"I was taking my trash out and found out what was going on from the people driving by. This could've gone out like an (AMBER Alert) to tell residents to bunker down," another neighbor wrote.

Wake County does have an alert system in place, ReadyWake that allows residents to opt-in for notifications about weather and other emergencies. The county said the system has sent 32 notifications in the past year and a spokesperson also confirmed the system has sent notifications for similar crime and shooting events in the past. Though this is a countywide system, the decision to send out alerts falls to the jurisdiction where the emergency is.

A spokesperson for Wake County said no alert was sent out on Oct. 13 because the City of Raleigh did not utilize it. Specifically, the spokesperson said the decision to activate would have come from the incident commander from the Raleigh Police Department.

Raleigh police release new details, timeline of the mass shooting that left 5 dead, 2 injured

A Raleigh spokesperson did not cite a reason why no alerts were sent but said that leaders are looking into it and "the City will do a comprehensive after-action review of all steps taken during this incident."

On Thursday, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson told the ABC11 I-Team that the department is continuing to look into why alerts were not sent out.

Even if an alert was sent out through ReadyWake, it would only go to residents who have opted into the system. But there are other options in the state that don't require people to opt-in, including the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system. WEA notifications are generally automatically enabled on people's cell phones. The state will send out notifications on behalf of counties, but this system was also not utilized during the mass shooting.

Wake County officials again pointed to Raleigh for not making that decision on Oct. 13.

"That makes me feel very disgusted," Karth said. "I mean, we have the technology to save lives and we're not using it. Somebody needs to be held accountable."

The I-Team reached out to Raleigh city leaders including the mayor, city manager and police chief. None provided a response as to why the alerts were not activated. The city's preliminary report on the shooting that was released Thursday did not mention the alert system but did state, "The Raleigh Police Department, through various media platforms, alerted the public to remain in their homes and encouraged drivers to avoid the area."

Karth said his community discussed ways to enhance notifications and safety in its annual HOA meeting this week as neighbors are still fearful.

"It really shouldn't fall back on the HOAs to figure this out. It should be taken care of," Karth said.

For Karth, it's not a matter of if, but when, another active shooting occurs in Raleigh, so he is hoping notifications can improve for future incidents.

"Obviously the process broke. So let's find the root cause and fix it and make sure it's fixed," he said.

You can sign up for alerts in Wake County here.

To learn about alert systems in place in other counties visit: https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organization/emergency-management/county-emergency-management-agencies