North Carolina College in Lockdown Twice in Five Days
A North Carolina community college was in lockdown twice last week in the wake of violence. The first lockdown occurred April 13, 2015.
Wayne Community College was closed following the murder of print shop director, Ron Lane. The man accused of killing Lane is 20-year-old Kenneth Stancil.
According to school reports, Stancil entered a campus building around 8:10 a.m. and fatally shot Lane.
The 911 calls from the shooting were released indicating the first signs of communication post-shooting. Three calls were recorded regarding the incident. The first call, made by a campus police officer at 8:10 a.m., came through via a police radio. “Be advised I just got a call, I’m in the library in the main building at WLC. I have a staff member on the floor, looks like an apparent gunshot.”
Immediately following the first call, dispatchers received two others. The second coming from another officer: “I have a staff member with a gunshot in the library. Ok, they’re telling me that somebody’s got a gun. I’m going to look for him, yes.”
The last appears to be made by a college staff member: “The victim’s name is Rob Lane and he is the print shop operator.” The dispatcher asked if the shooter was still there. “I have no idea. At this moment I’m just trying to get the college locked down,” stated the employee.
Immediately following the calls, police established a perimeter around the college and began room-to-room searches in every building. Over three hours later, however, authorities had not located Stancil. By 2 p.m., the search area was expanded.
Authorities then notified the public they believed Stancil was no longer on campus.
Wayne State Crisis Communication Efforts
Social media rumors of a hostage situation were diminished by an alert on the college’s website. The college reassured the public that students and staff had been evacuated from lockdown areas in an “orderly fashion.” The website alert also stated classes were canceled for the remainder of the day, but would resume on Tuesday and that counseling services were available.
The college, did, however, receive backlash from students via their Facebook account. Students and community members alike were not happy the school would be back in session the day after the shooting. Although the initial communication was timely on the school’s social media pages, follow-up, two-way communication was neglected.
A closer look into the design of the print shop raised concern. According to school President, Kay Albertson, the college campus is “open-door” and the print shop would be easy to access by way of a back staircase.
Motive or Random Act of Violence?
Although a motive has not been confirmed, the fatal shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Last weekend, Stancil gave himself a tattoo reading “88” on his left cheek; “Experts who track hate groups said the number is a neo-Nazi code for praising Adolf Hitler. Neo-Nazis have often been accused of attacking gays.”
Police have not said whether Stancil held white supremacist beliefs of what hate crime they are investigating. Stancil’s mother said the tattoo marked a “wannabe” rather than someone with neo-Nazi beliefs.
Stancil was, however, dismissed from a work-study program at the print shot last month, a possible contributing factor to last week’s shooting. A relative of Lane’s stated Stancil was fired for bringing drugs to the workplace. The college, however, reported he was fired due to too many absences.
Stancil fled the scene, but was arrested Tuesday morning after hitchhiking to Daytona Beach, Florida. He was extradited to North Carolina to face murder charges.
The second lockdown occurred Friday, April 17 following telephoned threats. President Albertson said the closing was a precautionary measure and a suspect had been identified; “The college was never in any danger today.”
Law enforcement officials were utilized, conducting foot patrols on the campus. State and federal authorities were also involved in the investigation. The college remained closed for the weekend to ensure the safety of the employees and students, according to the college’s website.
Stories like this saturate the news on a weekly basis. Whether a day school, high school, university or business, preparation and preparedness are key. It is not about if a crisis will occur, but rather when.
A school, organization or business can prevent acts of violence in various ways, one way is by conducting a Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment (BeRThA™).
The BeRThA program will assist schools and organizations in identifying, assessing, managing and responding to individuals or groups who may pose threats of violence. There are some guiding principles of the BeRThA program:
- Threat assessment must be part of an overall strategy to reduce school violence. Threat assessment by itself, absent an environment of respect, positive role models, communication between adults and students, conflict management and mediation, peer education, teachers and administrators paying attention to students’ social and emotional needs, as well as their academic needs, is unlikely to have a lasting effect on the problem of targeted school violence.
- No single person has all the skills required to conduct a behavioral threat assessment and no single person should have the sole responsibility to assess the potential risk of a student or employee. The ‘BeRThA’ program starts with the Board and engages the whole school community. It is designed using best practices and input from hands-on crisis management experience obtained by Firestorm principals and Expert Council Members, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, FBI, Department of Education and other thought leaders on the topic of school and workplace violence.
- BeRThA provides school personnel with a wealth of information about behavioral threats as well as the availability of responding resources. For example, a student who turns out to be expressing a low level of threat may still be one with a high level of need for intervention, supervision and mental health services. In the light of prevention, identifying a similar student and empower support services that may help address/resolve his or her problems, should be seen as a positive outcome for all involved.
Firestorm provides crisis management to organizations nationally and has identified actionable solutions to address threats before they escalate. Firestorm provided crisis management and crisis communications services to Virginia Tech after the shootings, Littleton, CO, Roswell, NM and Jefferson County School District in Colorado (Columbine, Arapahoe, Deer Creek and Platte Canyon schools). Firestorm was engaged by a high-school in Florida, after the headmaster was killed by a teacher, helping them to perform a security assessment and implement a workplace violence program.
Firestorm has conducted hundreds of vulnerability assessments for schools (public and private, higher education & K-12), corporations (public and private), large and small businesses, non-profits and government agencies. The Firestorm vulnerability assessment process incorporates proven techniques and strategies developed through hands-on experience garnered in crisis environments.
Firestorm is also regularly engaged to perform behavioral risk/threat assessments of individuals who exhibit behaviors of concern. Firestorm principals have led threat assessment teams that include Forensic Psychologists and law enforcement professionals, in evaluating the risk an individual poses. Where necessary, Firestorm works with the organization to manage risk and secure the facility or facilities and most critically, to guide the organization in its crisis communications and messaging to all stakeholders.
Please call Firestorm at 770-643-1114 or reach out via our CONTACT form and let us answer any questions you may have to assure your school or organization is doing everything possible to keep students, employees and your community safe.