UNCW releases report into alert system failure during shooting near campus


WILMINGTON, NC (UNCW) — A shooting near UNCW back in July posed a threat to students when the gunman ran through campus, but a campus safety alert system failed to notify students for hours. Today campus police finally released a report about what went wrong.

UNCW Police Chief David Donaldson says it was his call not to send an immediate alert message because of communication issues.

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The fact that the shooting happened off-campus meant that UNCW Police did not have ownership of the investigation. Instead, Wilmington Police were responsible. The report says early on WPD units switched to a radio channel that was unavailable to campus police.

The gunmen, Reggie Gagnier, ran into the woods on the UNCW campus, but students and staff did not get an emergency alert until more than an hour after the search for Gagnier was well underway.

“The message wasn’t released by my staff as early on as they could have released the message,” Chief Donaldson said. “As you review the details of the after action report you’ll see that there was an inquiry by me on at least two occasions to determine the status of releasing that message and it wasn’t released. Once it became obvious that my staff weren’t going to be effective in releasing that message, we went to a plan B which was providing a summary of information, a summary of the incident to the community in a form of an e-mail that was released by me.”

The report says a university police officer found Gagnier on campus with a loaded gun a half hour after the initial alert message was sent out.

Police say they are working to make sure the problems don’t happen in the future and that they can better work with other agencies.

Chief Donaldson also said the reason that this report took so long to be released was because they wanted to make sure it was very thorough and that they left, in his words, “no stone unturned.”