Two people were killed and four others injured Tuesday afternoon in a shooting in a classroom on the UNC Charlotte campus. The shooter was taken into custody just minutes after the shooting started, according to UNC Charlotte Police Department Chief Jeff Baker. In a press conference following the shooting, Baker said that three of the shooting victims were still in critical condition.
Police later identified the shooter as a 22-year-old former History major at UNC Charlotte who had dropped out of school earlier this semester.[Update: On Wednesday morning, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois named the two victims who were killed in the shooting: Ellis Parlier, 19, from Midland; and Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville.]
UNCC PD dispatch received a call at about 5:42 p.m.* stating that a suspect was armed with a pistol and had shot several students. Though Baker would not confirm where the shooting took place, multiple sources confirmed for Queen City Nerve that it happened on the second floor of the Kennedy building in a Science, Technology & Society class taught by Professor Adam Johnson.
Johnson was not hurt in the shooting. The only injury that Queen City Nerve was able to confirm was that of 19-year-old Drew Pescaro, a sports writer with the campus newspaper, the Niner Times. Staff at the Niner Times said they are getting conflicting reports about Pescaro’s status.[Update: Pescaro went through surgery on Tuesday and is expected to recover. The rest of the injured are as follows: Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saudi Arabia; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Sean DeHart, 20, of Apex. Pescaro is also from Apex.]
Baker said that his officers were already gathered on campus for a roll call in the lead-up to a Waka Flocka Flame concert scheduled at the football field to celebrate the last day of classes. That fact helped with the quick response, Baker said.
“Our officers’ actions definitely saved lives, there’s no doubt about that,” Baker told members of the media.
Following the press conference, Charlotte City Council member Greg Phipps, who represents district 4, where UNC Charlotte is located, called the shooting a “senseless tragedy” and “a heartbreaker.” He told Queen City Nerve his immediate thought was for the safety of the nearly 29,000 students who live on or near the university’s campus.
“In our society today these things have become far too frequent,” Phipps said, “but for it to happen so close to home, right here in our city, that’s going to be hard to get through.”
On the scene before the press conference was former N.C. State Sen. Malcolm Graham, whose sister Cynthia Hurd was killed in the Emanuel AME church shooting in Charleston in 2015. Graham has since been vocal in wanting stricter gun control laws in the United States, and pointed out that New Zealand recently passed stricter laws days after a mass shooting targeting mosques there.
Graham pointed out that opponents of such laws will always state that the time to talk about such things is not directly following a shooting, then added that the news cycle will have forgotten all about the UNC Charlotte shooting within two weeks.
“This is normal news now. We can’t normalize what’s been happening around our country,” Graham said. “This is not a Charlotte issue. This is a national issue.”
At around 9 p.m. when the press conference ended, Baker said officers were still going room-to-room looking for students who may have been sheltered in place. Some of the residence halls had already been reopened, he said. The campus was still on lockdown as of 10 p.m., and final exams had been canceled through Sunday.
Queen City Nerve will continue to update this story as more news becomes available.
*Correction: An original version of this story said that the call came in at 4:40 p.m., which is what Chief Baker said at the press conference. We have since corrected that to 5:42 p.m. based on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department report.