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Another Gunman Terrorizes UNC's 'Gun-Free' Campus

Townhall Media

Yet another gunman terrorized the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a "gun-free zone" by state law, a little over two weeks after a pistol-wielding Wuhan University alum allegedly shot dead a professor inside a school laboratory late last month.

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Like the case of the "mostly white Asian male" shooter, as satirically described on social media, the press—typically titillated by the thought of a trigger-happy maniac wreaking havoc on school grounds as a means to push the Left's gun-control agenda—isn't going to like this one. The suspect, a black man, is a career criminal reportedly with a rap sheet dating back a decade.

UNC Police issued a warning Wednesday through the campus-wide Emergency Notification System, notifying students of an "armed and dangerous person on or near campus" situation, the second shelter-in-place order within just a few weeks.

Chapel Hill Police Department officers arrested 27-year-old Mickel Deonte Harris, of Durham, at around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in the 300 block of Formosa Lane on outstanding warrants related to a Sept. 5 assault, the force announced in a press release.

The gun-toting suspect was sought in connection to an on-campus incident at Alpine Bagel Cafe in the Student Union, where Harris threatened a worker with a firearm and then fled by vehicle, UNC Police Chief Brian James said at a news conference.

Describing the conflict, an on-the-ground source told WRAL News that the boyfriend of a former employee at the university's bagel shop entered the cafe and waved a gun at one point during a loud confrontation. Another eyewitness said the altercation "started as a verbal fight between two guys at the cash register." The yelling among the pair of men drew attention from patrons, who scattered to call police, before the suspect pulled a 9 mm handgun and pointed it at the victim, threatening to kill him.

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In court, it was revealed that the ex-employee was Harris's girlfriend, who had just been fired over the phone by Alpine Bagel manager Jason Carpenter. The supervisor informed police that upon telling her she was no longer employed, he was told someone was on the way to the Student Union. That's when Harris showed up. "I will blow your f*cking head off," Harris allegedly threatened.

Harris booking page | Orange County Sheriff's Office

Personnel information released to The News & Observer says Harris was employed by UNC's housekeeping-services department as a part-time employee beginning in July. His employment also ended Wednesday, according to the file.

CBS 17 asked Chief James why a photo or video of the suspect was not released to the public while police were searching for him.

Harris mugshot | Orange County Sheriff's Office

"Regarding where the incident happened or where the suspect went afterwards, was there camera footage or surveillance of him, and if so, why did that not go out to the public and to news outlets to show people this 'armed and dangerous person' they should, you know, be on the lookout for and avoid, of course?" reporter Gilat Melamed questioned the head of UNC Police.

James said that, oftentimes, police are trying to pull footage simultaneously as the chaos unfolds. In this instance, by the time law enforcement was able to access the footage in question, the location of the suspect was already confirmed, James explained.

Sept. 13 incident report | UNC Police

Harris was apprehended at the Greenfield Place Apartments complex, north of campus, on an outstanding order for arrest over a prior firearm-related affair that similarly took place in the town of Chapel Hill on Old Durham Road near Scarlett Drive, which led law enforcement to seek criminal charges against Harris for assault by pointing a gun, communicating threats, and going armed to "the terror of the public." CHPD's public information officer told Townhall that on the morning of Sept. 5, police had responded to "a road-rage incident" involving Harris, in which he was found "threaten[ing] one other person there, but no one was hurt."

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"I'm going to kill you. Don't ever yell at me again. You don't know who you are talking to," Harris allegedly told the victim, who pleaded for his life in response: "I don't want to die. I have kids." No injuries were reported from the Sept. 5 incident.

According to a CHPD-filed incident report Townhall obtained via a public records request, the previous dispute occurred at the neighboring Carolina Blue Mini Mart, a convenience store that's about an eight-minute drive from UNC-Chapel Hill's campus.

Sept. 5 incident report | Chapel Hill Police Department

Harris, who is not a student, currently is being held in the Orange County Detention Center on those CHPD charges plus an additional assault offense and carrying a gun on educational property, according to Orange County Sheriff's Office inmate records viewed by Townhall. The arrest report UNC Police provided to Townhall says that Harris was booked on bonds totaling $11,500.

Sept. 13 arrest report | UNC Police

Authorities executed a search warrant on Harris's white Hyundai Sonata as well as his residence, where investigators seized the 9 mm handgun, 13 rounds of 9 mm ammunition, and receipts of purchase for firearms and ammunition, court documents reveal.

Represented by a public defender, Harris made a court appearance virtually on Thursday at the Orange County Courthouse.

Harris's most serious charge, the gun-on-educational-property offense, a Class I felony, carries a minimum punishment of three months in prison and a maximum of two years behind bars. Originally set at $10,000, his bail has been raised to $50,000 in the interest of public safety after the prosecution asked for the judge to impose a bond higher than recommended due to Harris's "escalation of dangerous behavior." If Harris posts bail, he is prohibited from possessing a gun, he'll have to wear an ankle monitor, and he'll be barred from UNC property, not allowed anywhere near campus. His next hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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In recent months, Harris reportedly has been charged with a number of violent crimes, but the charges were dropped each time.

Last October, Harris was charged with assault by pointing a gun and going armed to the terror of the public, plus assault by strangulation. However, those charges were dropped eventually by the district attorney's office run by Durham County chief prosecutor Satana Deberry, a Democrat. On the same day, Harris was charged with one count of misdemeanor cruelty to animals. Likewise, that case against Harris was dropped. "Per the Criminal and Infraction Public Record Search, the State was unable to proceed with prosecution in those matters because the victim could not be located and neither the victim or witness appeared in court despite subpoenas being issued," Deberry's office said in a statement to The News & Observer.

ABC11 reports that Harris's extensive criminal history stretches back to 2013, including larceny and other threatening acts.

Sept. 13 arrest report | UNC Police

"It's sad and alarming that there have been two lockdowns over the past 16 days on our campus," Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said at the joint UNC press briefing. There, he reminded everyone about the university's restrictions on firearms. "I want to be clear that guns are prohibited on our campus and every campus across the state of North Carolina," Guskiewicz declared.

North Carolina's criminal code (specifically § 14-269.2) makes it a felony, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, across the Tar Heel State to "possess or carry, openly or concealed, any gun, rifle, pistol, or other firearm of any kind [...] on any University campus, in any University-owned or operated facility, or at a curricular or extracurricular activity sponsored by the University."

The statute is cited by UNC-Chapel Hill's school policy, supposedly making the campus "a gun-free zone."

Twice, that gun ban didn't stop two gunmen from targeting their victims, two weeks, two days, and a quarter-mile apart.

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In the aftermath of the Aug. 28 fatal shooting of UNC associate professor Zijie Yan, allegedly at the hands of Wuhan-educated doctoral student Tailei Qi, President Joe Biden pledged to pursue stricter gun control and called on Congress to "do the same."

Wednesday's hour-plus scare sent the student body into a downward David Hogg-esque spiral over gun safety in America, with the Parkland grifter himself chiming in on X, formerly called Twitter. Barricaded inside classrooms, gun-control student activists at UNC-Chapel Hill took the opportunity to opine about the state of affairs—some in the form of slam poetry, others rage-tweeting.

In a message on the lockdown emailed to the UNC-Chapel Hill community, Guskiewicz detailed the timeline of events.

An alert was activated, triggering sirens at 12:55 p.m. because of reports that a weapon was "brandished." No shots were fired. "The situation was related to a personnel matter for one of our auxiliary units," Guskiewicz explained in the statement. Then, an "all clear" to resume "normal" activities was given at approximately 2:10 p.m. when law enforcement determined there was no longer an immediate threat with the suspect in custody. UNC-Chapel Hill's police department is leading the investigation.

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Just minutes before 911 was dialed, the university distributed a survey soliciting feedback about how the Aug. 28 shooting was handled. And, that very morning, there was an employee forum where faculty and staff discussed the emergency response.

Guskiewicz called Wednesday's news of another armed individual on campus "concerning" and "traumatic." As a result, all residential classes were canceled for the rest of the day and slated to resume Thursday. "Please know that support is available and these departments stand ready to help," Guskiewicz stated. Students were urged to contact the Dean of Students team or Counseling and Psychological Services to speak with a mental health professional. "Your mental health and well-being are paramount, and there are resources available to support you now and in the days ahead," university administrators stated.

Political intrigue surrounds the Aug. 28 murder of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member. As Townhall previously covered, Qi and Yan had worked closely together on scientific research at the campus Caudill Laboratories, where the latter was shot to death. 

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To date, authorities have not stated if the gun that Qi, a Chinese national in the U.S. on a student visa, allegedly used was illegally obtained. Exceptions for non-immigrant aliens to legally possess do exist under federal law, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, such as "a valid hunting license or permit, admitted for lawful hunting or sporting purposes."

As of last week, the murder weapon has yet to be found. On the day of Yan's death, the Federal Bureau of Investigation pounced to "provide assistance," deploying the FBI's evidence response team, which purportedly recovers evidence at crime scenes.

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