Today was an eventful day for me, wife and the kids. I took my kids to school and went to a Doctor’s Appointment immediately after. No, this isn’t (my biggest blogging fear) that this is a glorified status update to tell you about my mundane shopping/driving/errand-blunders. Rather, my appointment was on the ECU campus for a follow-up on nobody cares. The excitement and reason you should continue to read this is at 9:15am, I was seen for my appointment and after I was told I can’t leave the Center.
There are sirens going off and alerts every 5 minutes stating that Greenville Police has the campus on lockdown. All school buildings, including my children’s school nearby were hunkering down. I’ll assume they were coloring on paper on the floor, practicing stop, drop ‘n’ roll or an impromptu nap time to keep clear from windows. Their school is from 9am-12noon at a church off of 5th Street and Reade Circle.
These were the same 2 streets where the “gunman” was first spotted.
Time to freak out, I called to discuss with my wife who works further down 5th Street. Since she works for ECU, she receives more updated information than the sea of sick people trapped with me at the School Health Center. Their information came initially from where mine did…..Facebook and local news. Since these people had friends on campus, rumors and made-up garbage began to fly. There’s a sign all over the front doors that say “These doors to remain unlocked during business hours.” Is this true even in these situations? At this time, everyone is still sort of skeptical; however the employees covering the door were able to see when people needed to get inside from the potentially lurking danger. About 3-4 people came in who supposedly had appointments but they ran in, in fear. How did we know these people? No one checked their ID’s, just assumed that they were in the same position we were in. Who knows? Had they looked at those ID’s we could have found that we were harboring someone named Gunman, Armed, a medical student from Yuma who has a fear of hovering helicopters.
At this point, I know that the suspected “gunman” is coming more towards campus where I am. No threat though, it’s a large campus with 27,000 students. We are still getting the same school updates that tell us nothing new, so the people nearby in the waiting room are getting social and restless, much like their network of choice. This became endlessly entertaining as it gave me something to write about. That and I found that my wife was able to get our kids picked up quickly and home safely.
The first question I get is from a girl who (like the rest of my surrounding new-found unintentionally bonding friends) is about 20-something years old. She shows me a picture on her phone of a man facing away, on his knees and cops gun drawn. All of the buildings have walkways, shrubbery and the setting is between 2 brick buildings. This is much like every walkway between buildings throughout this large campus. So, no, I did not know where that was. I asked her where she got the picture, she said from a friend on Facebook. Of course.
At first the whole thing was alarming as I had obvious concern for my family. Soon enough, I had concern for my new young friends who were completely engrossed in their social media of choice. While this is concerning for our entire society, my real worry is that while we all thought this was real, they were sitting with their backs to the wide area glass windows. Awareness of our surroundings may have been our first line of defense.
So, there was a minor celebration that classes were cancelled, so those with their laptops went (again) to Facebook and Twitter instead of completing their assignments that would have been due today. Then we realized that once they started handing out blankets and drinks we were going to be there for the long haul. However, this is the best place to be as they can give us fluids as needed, not quite like the local bars, but it’s a benefit. If there were any problems, there was a full medical staff on hand; the difference was that they were getting paid for notifying their Twitter followers that they may be Twictims.
Here is the schools’ initial ECU ALERT- Update
ECU police , assisted by Greenville Police Department and Pitt County Sheriff’s officers, are responding to an unconfirmed report of a man last observed on 5th Street in the vicinity of ECU’s east/main campus, who may be carrying a rifle. The east/main campus is locked down, with all buildings locked, and students, faculty and staff members have been advised to stay away from windows and doors in the campus facilities. There have been no reports of injuries or threats on the campus. Buildings are being checked/cleared by police systematically, with students being released to buses or relocated, location-by-location, as the situation dictates. Campus officials will issue updated reports as they are available.
I arrived at my appointment at 9:15am; we were not released until 12:45pm.
The news online and from local TV stations was not telling much other than that there was a “gunman” sighted and headed towards campus. The Local NPR station said nothing much more either, less than a minute to tell us the same thing and then told us that listener support is what allows us to enjoy shows like “Prairie Home…click.
There is no doubt that this is a serious situation and an unfavorable trend in our society but this has a happy ending and Greenville and ECU campus handled this favorably.
Here’s the kicker. I heard it 3 times before looking for more to research if the following was true: realizing that even after 3 hours there, 2 hours home, not trusting social gossip networking and not hearing any explanation from TV, Internet, whatever.
The final statement released from the Greenville Police Department was that the “Gunman” was a Greenville citizen, carrying an umbrella! http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8434045
Although there was more than one 911 call made, police say that this was no hoax, it was a misunderstanding. Buildings were cleared, houses were surrounded and one ECU building was even evacuated and had those occupants bussed away from the area.
On a lighter note, during all this, my Doctor came out stating her knee hurt, asking if it was supposed to rain, she was right AND the guy (I will no longer call him gunman) was justified as it just started raining here.