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Shooting shifts perspective for Rose alumna

SAT. |10-7-23| FEATURES

     Emergency: Armed, dangerous person on or near campus. Go inside now; avoid windows.     

     This is the text alert Rose alumnus Emmy Ingalls received while sitting in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) student store on Monday, August 28 at 1:04 pm.
     After graduating this past spring, Ingalls recently started college at UNC. It was only her sixth day of classes when she received this alarming message.
     “[That day] I woke up really nervous because I have five classes on Monday in a span from 10:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon and I had a meeting where I had to be dressed up by 5:00 pm,” Ingalls said.

     She had just enough time in between two of her classes to grab a bite to eat and do some work, so Ingalls found a cafe in the student store to sit in. The UNC student store is surrounded by
windows that look out into ‘the pit’, which is
essentially the center of campus where numerous students walk through to get from place to place.


Graphic by Anna McLean Evans

     “I was sitting at a table by a huge window with a couple of girls I didn’t know and I was on the phone with my mom when I got the alert,” Ingalls said. “I looked outside and everyone started running into buildings.”
     Ingalls then joined her peers in rushing to find the safest place possible in the circumstances at hand. They ended up crouching, huddled together between garment racks in the middle of the building.
     “My biggest fear was all the windows around me,” Ingalls said. “There was nowhere to hide, I wasn’t with anyone, so I started to get really scared.”
     There were two senior girls that Ingalls befriended throughout the unpleasant situation that were getting updates from other students on an app called ‘Yik Yak’. They eventually pulled up the police scanner and live news, intensely listening for any updates on the active shooter.
     “I didn’t realize the situation was super serious when the text came out,” Ingalls said. “But when I realized that the shooter was 500 feet from where I was, I [started to] panic and I realized I was by myself and didn’t have any friends around me.”
     In the four hours that Ingalls was seeking cover in the student store, news spread about the active shooter and her phone was flooding with texts from people she knew, checking in to make sure she was safe. This was much appreciated by Ingalls who was struggling to come to terms with the whirlwind of events that had happened.
     “I always felt [that] something like this could happen anywhere, but I hadn’t been prepared for it to hit my school, especially not that day because I was so worried about getting to that meeting rather than fearing a school
shooting,” Ingalls said. “I knew my worry of getting to that meeting dressed up and on time was of no significance now.”

     After the shooter was caught and everything was starting to settle down, Ingalls was finally able to find comfort in her dorm with her friends. She took a minute to decompress and realized that she needed to go home to her family.

     “The [university] canceled class for Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was able to go home for a couple of nights,” Ingalls said. “That was really good for me because I was able to get away for a little bit and relocate myself, which was super refreshing.”
     Once she was recharged and back at school, Ingalls mentioned that it was healing to be there with everyone once again. In such a short period of time, she had formed a loving bond within the UNC community that she was able to lean on through hard times.
     “Everyone wants UNC to still be, and it is, and will always be, a wonderful place,” Ingalls said. “We are all just trying to cope with it, move on, and love each other throughout everything.”
     Fortunately, the institution as a whole has been proactive in making sure that everyone involved with the incident has the support they need.
     “There have been plenty of social media posts, emails, and alerts that have gone out with information for students and faculty to talk to people, get counseling, or anything that they may need,” Ingalls said. “That has been
really good to see that whatever you need in a time like this, UNC has for ‘‘you’’.
     Even though the school is in the process of returning back to normalcy, UNC will never be the same as they are grieving a loss of a faculty member and working through the mental aspect of being thrown into a situation in which many people were fearing for their lives.
     “I still am scared,” Ingalls said. “I don’t foresee myself going back to the student center by myself anytime soon and right now I am not doing much of anything alone around campus.”

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