Tuesday was the last day of classes for the spring semester, and students had planned to celebrate with a baseball game and Waka Flocka concert that night. Instead, it became “the saddest day in UNC Charlotte’s history,” as Chancellor Phil Dubois called it in an email to the campus community.
A former student started firing in classroom 236 in the Kennedy building at approximately 5:40 p.m. A NinerAlert sent minutes after the gunshots warned the campus community: “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.”
April 30 was the final day of classes. In Kennedy 236, Professor Adam Johnson’s Science, Technology and Society class, it was the first day of final presentations. Johnson wrote in a blog post that seven minutes into the first presentation, “earsplitting bangs ring throughout the room, off the glass walls, creating a terrible reverberation.”
Note: The classroom pictured above is not Kennedy 236, but a classroom in COED.
The University lifted the campus lockdown at 5:23 a.m. on May 1. That evening, thousands of UNC Charlotte community members attended a memorial service and impromptu vigil at the SAC and on the compass quad.
Students organized a vigil at 6:00 p.m. on May 1 in Halton Arena. The effort was ledby Kristine Slade and Makala Carrington and supported by the Senior Class Council, Senior Executive Leadership Program and the Student Organization Resource Center (SORC).
Chancellor Dubois was tearful and his voice was audibly shaken. “As parents ourselves, Lisa and I grieve for the senseless loss of young life and share in the anguish of their parents, their families and you, their friends. We can’t bring them back,” he said.
Newly inaugurated Student Body President Chandler Creanexpressed his sincere condolences and support to the injured students and thanked CMPD and UNC Charlotte Police Department for their work. He also stated, “Students, faculty, friends and family, please know that this does not stop here. It can not stop here. We have to stay strong together, uplift each other, love one another and unite as one Niner Nation. What happened yesterday cannot happen again.”
Chief of UNC Charlotte Police Jeffrey Baker was one of the first to respond to the scene. “April 30 is a day in my life that I honestly think about every day and probably will forever, in one way or another,” he told the Niner Times.
From left to right: event organizer Kristine Slade, Student Body President Chandler Crean, Student Body Vice President Adela Mann, Mrs. Lisa Dubois, and Chancellor Phil Dubois during the National Anthem.
Kristine Slade, Makala Carrington, and dozens of others organized a massive drive for candles, water bottles, and other materials required for the vigil. “There were over 100 student volunteers working hands on without hesitation that day,” said Slade in a recent interview. “And it really couldn’t have been done without their help and dedication.”
The tragedy also spurred a growing student movement against gun violence in Charlotte. Students joined the campus chapter of March for Our Lives, and independent organizations like Real Change Now Charlotte formed to combat gun violence. Two students, Gabe Cartagena and Cade Lee, ran for local office the following year on platforms informed by April 30 and gun law reform.
UNC Charlotte’s Counseling and Psychological Services saw a tremendous increase in students utilizing their services after the shooting. The American Red Cross, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office, and other organizations provided additional support to meet these demands. The University of Utah and UNC Chapel Hill also offered to purchase food for CAPS employees.
Content warning: This article contains images from April 30 that may be disturbing.
On April 30, 2019, the UNC Charlotte community was thrown into chaos. An armed assailant fired into a classroom of the centrally-located Kennedy building, hitting six students. Two, Ellis "Reed" Parlier and Riley Howell, were killed. Drew Pescaro, Sean DeHart, Rami Al-Ramadhan and Emily Houpt were injured and have all since recovered.
The following is a collection of photos taken on April 30 and May 1 by members of the Niner Times.