Keyana Daye, Staff Writer
Wingate students started their Monday afternoon just like any other until the sound of a siren was played from the bell tower. A lockdown had begun. Earlier that morning the Union County law enforcement had responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street, which is across from Wingate University.
Once Campus Safety was notified, the University Crisis Management Team mobilized and the University initiated lockdown procedure. All students were notified to seek shelter to the closest building. The lockdown lasted an hour long until the University was advised by law enforcement to resume normal operations while law enforcement remained on campus. On Tuesday morning the suspect, Douglas Cleveland Colson, turned himself into custody of the Wingate police department.
The homicide that prompted a lockdown on Wingate campus happened shortly after 10am, Monday morning. The victim, Prentis Robinson, was live streaming on Facebook Live after leaving the Wingate Police Department from reporting cellular theft.
On his way back to his home, Douglas Colson appeared who he then exchanged a few words with. There are reports that Robinson had suspected Colson of drug dealing. Shortly afterwards shots were fired and a few minutes later he was pronounced dead on the scene. This all took place less than a mile away from Wingate University.
While the homicide took place approximately at 10 a.m., the lockdown on Wingate campus didn’t take place until a little after 11 a.m. Some students reported that they thought it was odd since they had been seeing helicopters in the sky over campus.
And there were some students, like Jessica Daniels, that had heard Wingate Elementary School was on lockdown around 11 a.m. When Daniels heard about this and saw helicopters outside, she decided to call Wingate Campus Safety to check on things.
She reported that a woman answered the phone but reacted as if it were the first time she had heard of there being an shooting. After a few minutes of being on hold, the woman said, “So, someone was shot in the area, but it’s not like there is a killer on the loose.”, and according to Jessica Daniels it was less than 10 minutes later that the lockdown was called for.
As soon as the siren was played, it would be expected that everyone who heard the siren would move into the nearest building and turn off all the lights. However, according to most students, nobody knew what to do or even knew what the siren meant.
Some students reported that people kept walking around as the siren played and that even 10 minutes into the lockdown some professors were still lecturing. And according to most students, the general census was that nobody knew that the lockdown had started until they received text alerts from Wingate Campus Safety. Also during the campus-wide lockdown, many students reported that they were in rooms that did not have locks.
Many students expressed concern and were confused as to why it took so long from the initial incident to initiate the lockdown. In response to these questions, Chief of Wingate Campus Safety, Michael Easley, stated that Wingate Campus Safety was currently in the process of testing new locks and that by the end of next week they should have more locks to test.
And in response to the confusion of the wait in between the incident and the lockdown he stated, “I was not made aware until approximately 11 a.m. by the Wingate police department. I, then assembled the Crisis Management team and we analyzed the situation and sent out the first request for a lockdown at 11:30.”
He also reported that the public was able to know about the incident before Campus Safety and the police because the victim was live streaming on Facebook. Once the incident was analyzed, the Crisis Management team and Wingate police department was able to initiate action.
In response to the incident, an email was sent out to students on Tuesday afternoon detailing that the suspect was in custody and summarized the lockdown procedure that took place that Monday afternoon.
The Crisis Management team and Campus Safety are assessing their response and are currently accepting feedback from students, faculty, and parents. A listening session for students was held with the SGA forum and individual training will be held for Wingate employees in response to the incident.
Edited by: Brea Childs
Photo credit: Flickr