WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County sheriff’s deputies were performing a welfare check Thursday evening when they found UNC Wilmington professor Mike Adams dead in his home.
While the cause of death has not yet been determined, many were shocked to hear of Adams’ passing.
“It was something I did not expect to ever happen,” UNCW Alumni Lanre Badmus said. “It was definitely shocking.”
An online petition with more than 60,000 signatures was created calling for the termination of Adams after his controversial, sometimes racially charged statements and social media posts resurfaced.
Last month, UNCW announced Adams would be retiring early, later revealing a $504,702.76 settlement to Adams for lost salary and lost retirement benefits. His retirement was set to take effect August 1.
Badmus advocated for the termination of Adams, saying he did not support the professor’s what he calls hateful rhetoric, harassment and doxxing.
“We wanted him to face the consequences of his actions, his rhetoric, his hate, his divisiveness,” Badmus said.
While he did not agree with Adams, Badmus says he did not hope for this outcome.
“We never wanted him to die, but I also don’t think we should feel guilty over the fact that he’s now gone,” Badmus said. “Whatever your feelings on him, it’s sad that this happened. We never want to see a loss of life. For anyone, for any reason.”
Another UNCW student who chose to remain anonymous says she did not personally know Adams, but she believed the language he used publicly was racist and bigoted.
“His presence made UNCW a less safe and welcoming campus,” she said. “By hiding under the umbrella of free speech he gave others permission to use his harmful rhetoric as well.”
She went on to offer sympathies to Adams’ loved ones.
“While I don’t feel any compassion for Mike Adams personally, I want to express my condolences and sincere sympathies to the family,” she said. “As well as to remind the community that losing a loved one is painful and to respect their privacy, especially when speculating publicly about his death.”
Others who strongly supported Adams will remember him fondly.
“He always stood his ground,” long time friend Dutch Martin said. “He always stood up for what he believed in and I have admired him from day one.”
Martin says he respected Adams and he believed he was brave for being a staunch conservative at a left-leaning university.
“They champion racial diversity, ethnic diversity, gender diversity as long as you lean to the left,” Martin said. “If you lean to the right, no, diversity does not apply.”
Martin took to social media to defend Adams after he saw what he considered disrespectful commentary about his death.
“As a black conservative and a friend of Mike Adams, I’m not going to sit by and allow my friend, who was taken from us far too soon, to have his reputation besmirched by a bunch of flaming leftists who did not like him just because they disagreed with him and didn’t have the intellectual gumption to challenge him,” Martin said.
Another fan of Adams’ work, Tammy Heuring, says he was a hero to the silent majority.
“Dr. Mike Adams was a bastion of free speech, the pro-life movement, and uncovering the truths of university corruptions and liberal progressivism. He was a beautiful debater of the apologetic and the unborn,” Heuring wrote.
Heuring continued to praise his advocacy for freedom of thought and standing up for his beliefs.
“He stood on a firm foundation of biblical beliefs, which most of the world hates. He wasn’t hated because of his beliefs, he was hated for the Christ in him. He was falsely accused of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and the list goes on,” Heuring said.
The investigation into the death of Mike Adams is still ongoing.