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Tragedy at N.C. A&T

N.C. A&T grieves after weekend’s fatal shootings

The Greensboro, North Carolina, campus struggles to get back to normal after horrific violence

The air was heavy as classes resumed Monday morning at North Carolina A&T State University, one day after a weekend shooting just off campus took the lives of two students.

Classmates remembered the two students – one fun-loving, the other quiet-spoken – and said they would be missed.

Students held a vigil on campus on Sunday, the same day university officials held an information session. More vigils were planned for Monday and the rest of the week.

The campus office of media relations identified the victims as Alisia Dieudonne, a sophomore computer science major from Homewood, Illinois; and Ahmad Campbell, a junior agriculture and environmental systems major from Kittrell, North Carolina.

It saddened Imani Chavis, a junior marketing major from Greensboro, to see Campbell’s empty chair next to hers Monday in an accounting class.

“He was soft-spoken,” Chavis said. “He sat on the front row next to me.”

She described the campus mood as “real sad.”

“It’s sad just to know all this stuff is still going on, all these shootings are going on. People are talking about Black Lives Matter. What are we supposed to do about police shootings, when we can’t get our own race together?”

Some of the students were allowed to discuss the weekend’s event in their Monday classes.

“The students are concerned, they’re frightened, they’re scared,” said Kim Smith, who teaches in the department of Journalism and Mass Communications. “There were a lot of emotions. We spent the first half-hour of class speaking about that incident and what it means to them.”

Chancellor Harold Martin addressed the university community in an email on Sunday, saying:

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Alisia and Ahmad this morning. My wife Davida and I extend our heartfelt condolences to each of their families and friends at this difficult time. Both Alisia and Ahmad were actively involved in campus life and vitally important members of the Aggie family. They will be sorely missed.”

Martin’s statement continued: “This incident is extremely disturbing. Violence on or near our campus is unacceptable. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is a priority. While there is no imminent danger, the North Carolina A&T State University Police Department (UPD) continues to work closely with the university administration to educate our students on ways to remain safe at all times.”

Martin and university police held a session with students Sunday in Harrison Auditorium where they were available to answer questions. The university’s office of counseling services also was open Sunday to work with grieving students.

On Saturday, the students were inside an apartment on the 900 block of Circle Drive, about a block from Aggie Stadium, when they apparently were struck by stray bullets fired during an altercation outside, according to an account in the Greensboro News & Record.

The student whose apartment where the two students were killed told the newspaper that “hundreds” of people gathered at his apartment for an after-party, after many had left a party at another location.

He said that the crowd grew so large because someone posted the party’s location on a social media site.

The altercation and shooting took place after the student began ushering people away from the premises. Police said the two deceased students were innocent bystanders and had no connection with any altercation.

No arrests have been made in the shooting. Police have not announced any suspects, and the investigation is continuing.

Dominique and Tyrique Taylor, twin junior mass communication majors from Fayetteville, North Carolina, said they were on their way to the “kick back” — a casual after-hours event that usually involves card-playing — when they learned about the violence.

“We were headed up there for a 2:30 [Sunday morning] kick-back,” Dominique Taylor said. “Someone told us there had been a shooting, so we turned around.”

The twins didn’t learn of the gravity of the situation until a Sunday morning notification from the university.

“I was shocked,” Tyrique Taylor said. “I remembered last year that someone had gotten shot [also off campus] around GHOE,” the Aggies’ acronym for Greatest Homecoming on Earth.

The twins said they are friends of friends of Alisia.

“We heard she was a really great person, that she was very positive, that she loved dancing,” Dominique Taylor said.

Still, the Taylor twins said they continue to feel safe on campus.

“I feel like we have good security,” Tyrique Taylor said. “I just want to distance myself from parties like that, just try to stay away from hype, overcrowded environments.”

The Greensboro Police Department and the university are asking anyone with information about the crime to call Greensboro Crime Stoppers at 336-373-1000 or text a tip to 274637.

“Please join me in keeping the families of Alisia and Ahmad in your thoughts and prayers,” Martin said.

David R. Squires is a writer, editor and digital journalist who has worked for the New York Times, Detroit Free Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer and St. Petersburg Times. He's also a former editor-in-chief of BlackVoices.com and BVQ magazine, a former Black Enterprise writer and editor and NUTribemagazine.com managing editor.