UNCW sends out inadvertent ‘shots fired’ alert

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – University of North Carolina at Wilmington officials are investigating how an inadvertent “shots fired” alert was sent out campus-wide Tuesday morning.

Around 9:40 a.m., UNCWAlert, a system that sends out texts, emails, and phone calls during emergencies on campus, sent out the following message to students and staff:

UNCW Alert! Sent on 21 Feb 2017.

University Police have received a report of shots fired on main campus.

Immediately take shelter in a secure location away from windows, secure any doors and wait for the all clear message. Emergency personnel are responding.

Updated information will be shared as it becomes available. Please do not contact the University to seek additional information, as university officials and emergency responders are busy addressing life safety concerns. Excessive phone calls may delay response.

Monitor your cell phone, email, UNCW homepage (www.uncw.edu), UNCWAlert page (www.uncw.edu/alert), the Emergency Information Hotline at 910.962.3991 or 888.657.5751, and local media.

A few minutes later, UNCW took to social media to say that the alert was sent out in error.

The messages sent had students on high-alert. Many said they panicked after receiving the notifications. Some ran for shelter while others said they didn’t know what to do.

“I was pretty freaked out because that was the first voicemail I had listened to and so that was telling me of the incident,” said freshman Natalie Starr. “Then the next one explained it was unintentional which was so bizarre to me that we got that message.”

UNCW immediately issued the following statement on their website after the incident:

An all-clear text message has been issued to faculty, staff and students via UNCWAlert, but in case it has not yet reached you, please be assured that there were no shots fired on our campus this morning. We are looking into how the erroneous alert was issued and we apologize for this unfortunate error and the undue alarm it caused.

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