False alarm: UNCW mistakenly reports ‘shots fired’ on campus


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – There has not been a shooting at UNCW.

UNCWAlert mistakenly sent to students (Photo: Contributed)

UNCWAlert mistakenly sent out a warning alerting the campus of a shooting this morning.

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The message was then shared by the UNCW newspaper.

UNCW soon sent a follow up alert saying the message was unintentional. UNCW says officials are investigating how the erroneous alert was issued.

The campus released the following statement, “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 apologize for this unfortunate error and the undue alarm it caused.”

This afternoon, the university sent another message to campus apologizing for what happened:

Dear Campus Community:

At 9:35 a.m. today, a text message was issued to those who subscribe to UNCWAlert, a UNCW emergency messaging tool, to indicate shots had been fired on our main campus, and directing recipients to take shelter. At 9:41 a.m., the university issued a retraction via UNCWAlert indicating there was no emergency, and at 9:43 a.m. that retraction was reiterated via the university’s social media channels. An email was sent to all faculty, staff and students at 9:51 a.m. to reiterate the retraction.

The university deeply regrets this false alarm, which was caused by user error during a routine campus training session. Campus officials immediately began to investigate how this error occurred in an effort to prevent it from reoccurring. We can confirm that there was no external interference (i.e. “hacking”) involved in this error.

Our primary goal at this point is to ensure that this error and the subsequent alarm it caused do not undermine our community’s confidence in the substantial safety measures in place on our campus. We also recognize and regret the potential psychological impact of this morning’s error. Students who are experiencing any distress (related or unrelated to this alarm) should contact the Counseling Center at (910)962-3746; employees should call (877)274-7342 or visit guidanceresources.com (university web ID: UNCW). Training exercises pertaining to what to do in an active shooter situation are regularly offered by UNCW Police. Information is available via http://uncw.edu/police/ast.html.

Again, we want to offer our sincerest apologies for this morning’s chain of events, and to reaffirm our commitment to the highest standards of public safety.

The university did not say in the statement if it yet knows how the alert was mistakenly sent.

We will hear from UNCW’s police chief about what happened coming up tonight on WWAY NEWS starting at 5 p.m.

To learn more about how the campus responds to emergencies and resources available to the community, visit the UNCW Police Department’s website.