Hundreds of students packed Halton Arena at UNC-Charlotte on Wednesday night for a vigil honoring the victims of Tuesday’s deadly campus shooting.
Two students were killed, and four others were hurt late Tuesday afternoon when a gunman opened fire in a classroom in the Kennedy building.
“UNCC will not and should not be defined by the tragedy, but how we respond to it,” Chancellor Philip Dubois told the crowd.
On Wednesday, the Kennedy building remained closed, but officers waited outside to hand students their backpacks and belongings that were left behind when they ran from the gunfire.
Freshman Alyssa Golden wasn’t in her Tuesday night Science Technology and Liberal Studies class when she got an alert on her phone about a shooter on campus.
“That’s when I looked at the group message of people in that class and that’s when I realized the shooting was in my classroom and people in my class were shot,” said Golden.
Golden had skipped class that night, the same class in which police say 22-year-old Tristan Terrell pulled out a handgun and starting shooting randomly at students.
“It felt scary knowing I could have been in that classroom and watch all of that. I can’t imagine what those people are feeling,” said Golden.
UNCC sophomore Katie Willis said she was waiting for a year-end concert to begin Tuesday night, when she got an alert on her phone telling her to “run, hide or fight.”
“Today is the day. Today is the day that we were not looking forward to. The day we didn’t want to happen. Then that’s when people were like, ‘there’s a shooter. There’s a shooter’,” Willis said.
She said students panicked at rumors, later proved false, about a second shooter. As students ran, Willis hid in a bathroom, and prayed.
“Please God protect us. That’s the only thing you can do is be still and pray and I was getting in contact with as many people as I could saying ‘I love you, I love you’,” said Willis.
One of those messages was to her mom, who came to campus Wednesday.
Jill Willis said she was grateful to hug her own daughter, and heartbroken for the UNCC parents who cannot hug their children.