Questions are being asked about the way a historically Black college in North Carolina responded to a heavily armed white man being arrested on its campus last week.
Brandon James Bentley was arrested by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s (NC A&T) police department in the early morning hours on March 26 in what appears to be a foiled plot to launch an attack on the school in Greensboro. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news, however, appears to be two-fold: Not only did NC A&T subsequently and unequivocally deny reports that an armed man was on campus by calling them “FALSE,” but days later it also did a full 180 and acknowledged the arrest, but only after it was first reported in local media.
According to a police report, Bentley, was in possession of at least five guns, including two shotguns and one rifle, as well as a crossbow, a machete, a stun gun, multiple hatchets, knives a blow dart gun, brass knuckles and more. He also reportedly had more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
Local news outlet WXII reported that “NC A&T officers told police Bentley was chasing unarmed security guards on the campus.”
Bentley was arrested, booked and released on a $100,000 bond.
Last Tuesday, he was on his Facebook account blaming the criminal charges he’s facing on a “guy who’s been playing mind games on me.”
Two days after that, amid apparent “reports and rumors” among the NC A&T community about the arrest, the University inexplicably took it upon itself to issue an official statement via Twitter denying that “an armed individual” had recently been on campus.
The statement went on to call the reports “unsubstantiated” and suggested there was never “a safety issue,” indicating that an alert to the University’s community would have been sent had there been a threat.
But on Monday, after local media broke the story, NC A&T’s police department issued its own statement that contradicted the University’s claim days earlier and confirmed Bentley had been arrested on campus. However, the only references to the unspecified “weapons” Bentley had were vague, noting that they were discovered in his car and “confiscated” swiftly.
Notably, NC A&T police also said in its statement that “a campus alert was not issued” because “the suspect no longer constituted an ongoing threat to campus safety.”
That choice of wording, of course, suggests that there was indeed “an ongoing threat to campus safety” at some point, which, according to NC A&T’s stated police policy, means that the campus should have been alerted after all.
Even further, it was unclear why NC A&T decided first deny the reports of an armed man on campus before issuing the statement on Monday instead of in the immediate aftermath of Bentley’s arrest last week.
Perhaps exacerbating matters is the fact that as Bentley was arrested, the topic of gun violence at educational institutions was reaching a fever pitch nationally after the deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville renewed a debate about the strength of gun laws.
Meanwhile, mainstream media has seemingly been slow to report on Bentley’s arrest despite the apparent urgency and relevance to the aforementioned heated national discourse on guns along with white supremacist violence and what is oftentimes their deadly combination.
But any mention of Bentley’s arrest on NC A&T’s campus was absent from that conversation after the University initially remained quiet and outright denied it ever happened before reversing course.
The news comes a little more than a year after NC A&T was one of the dozens of HBCUs around the country targeted by racist bomb threats.
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