More than two weeks have passed since a security guard killed an HBCU student for supposedly breaking into cars at an off-campus apartment complex parking lot in North Carolina. DeAndre Ballard, who was a senior at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, was shot the night of Sept. 17, but that was pretty much the only fact that was established as local law enforcement has kept quiet about most other details protesters have been demanded ever since.
Some of the key questions that could be answered may lie in the 911 calls that were placed after the shooting. However, a local news reporter tweeted that the 911 call, or calls, were not being released, even though it’s fairly customary to release them to the public under such controversial circumstances.
The frustrating development came one day after NCCU students coordinated a campus protest by walking out of class Monday morning to demand justice for their fallen 23-year-old classmate. The organizer of the walkout, Jamie Lyn Riggin, said she wanted to increase awareness to the shooting that hasn’t seemed to register a blip on the national media radar.
“We don’t stand for things like this to continue to happen,” Riggin reportedly told the group of students who participated in the walkout. “We have pride here as Eagles, and if we are gonna soar, we are gonna soar as one,” she said, referring to the NCCU mascot.
That walkout followed a weekend protest in downtown Durham.
The company that still employs the security guard who killed Ballard has defended the deadly shooting by repeating a familiar refrain heard after shootings by law enforcement.
“We fully, 100 percent stand by his actions because this was self-defense,” Kevin Ladd, vice president of the N.C. Detective Agency, told the Herald Sun. “In our eyes this is a tragic accident. It never should have gotten to this, but our officer was fearful for his life.”
Ballard’s friends and family were adamant that breaking into cars was “out of character” for the physical education major.
Students on Monday also questioned how sincere NCCU’s response to Ballard’s shooting was, seemingly trying to distance itself from the incident instead of sympathizing and empathizing.
“The university is not associated with and does not have any contractual agreement with Campus Crossings, an independently-owned residential apartment complex,” NCCU said in a statement released Sept. 27. “The NCCU police department officers have no jurisdiction or connection with the Campus Crossings apartment complex nor with the security officer involved in the incident. NCCU does not endorse or recommend any specific rental property for students. Additionally, the university does not utilize the security services of the N.C. Detective Agency and does not hire any officers employed with this particular agency.”
Ballard’s killing came amid a spate of violence on or near HBCU campuses. A man was killed Friday near the campus of Southern Universty in Baton Rouge. One day earlier, a Morehouse College student was carjacked and robbed of his belongings near the school’s campus in Atlanta. Three Florida A&M University students had a gun pulled on them in an elevator at an off-campus apartment building in Tallahassee on Sept. 10.