By Michelle Cassell
A suspect was arrested concerning an incident where an armed and dangerous person was reported brandishing a gun inside the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Union at 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
Chapel Hill Police Department issued a press release at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday saying, “Mickel Deonte Harris, 27, of Durham, was arrested in the 300 block of Formosa Lane, Chapel Hill, on outstanding warrants for his arrest at 2:45 p.m on Wednesday.”
The press release states, “Harris was being sought in connection with an incident on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus earlier this afternoon. UNC-Chapel Hill is leading the investigation of today’s incident.”
On Thursday, Orange County Jail records show that Harris was charged with misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun, misdemeanor assault by communicating threats, and a felony charge of possessing a firearm on educational property. Harris is being held on a bond of $50,000 in Orange County Jail. His next court date is September 18.
Wednesday afternoon, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a campus message that the incident was “related to a personnel matter.” According to UNC Police Chief Brian James, the suspect confronted an employee at the Alpine Bagel restaurant inside the student union, displayed a firearm and threatened the employee. There were no shots fired in the incident.
UNC Police issued an Alert Carolina at 12:45 EST on Wednesday, putting the UNC-Chapel Hill campus on a shelter-in-place order for the second time in two weeks. Sirens were sounded on campus at 12:55 p.m. with an alert advising students, faculty and staff to go inside, close doors, and remain inside until further notice. The alert warned students of “an armed and dangerous person on or near campus.”
James said the 10-minute delay between the 911 call and the alert being issued was because the police were trying to confirm details of the event.
Chief James said the all-clear was issued on the UNC campus at 2:12 p.m. after they were certain the suspect had left the campus but before the arrest was made.
At 1:55 p.m., Andy Jenks, chief communications officer from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, emailed parents and faculty that the schools would operate in “secure mode” until the situation was clear. This meant that school would continue normally, but doors would be locked and no one was allowed in or out. CHCCS were able to dismiss at regular hours.
Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news.