Elizabeth City State University is offering counseling to faculty and students after some became unknowing participants in an emergency response drill.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported in Wednesday's editions that an armed man burst into a classroom Friday, threatening to kill students. The drill came eight days after a gunman killed five people and himself in a classroom at Northern Illinois University.
Anthony Brown, vice chancellor of student affairs, said ECSU was testing its response to such shootings. E-mail and text messages were sent five days before the drill, notifying students, staff and faculty, he said.
"The intent was not to frighten them but to test our system and also to test the response of the security that was on campus and the people that were notified," Brown said.
But not everyone got the word, including assistant professor Jingbin Wang, whose American foreign policy class was held hostage.
"I was prepared to die at that moment," Wang said Tuesday of the moment the gunman entered the room.
At 1:31 p.m. Friday, e-mail and text messages were sent, saying: "This is a test. ECSU is holding a test drill where an armed intruder will enter a room in Moore Hall and be detained by campus police."
The campus police officer who played the role of the intruder carried a red plastic model gun, the school said in a news release.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Wang said the man came to the door and said he wanted to talk. "Suddenly the man pointed the gun at me," he said, adding that he didn't have time to consider whether the gun was real.
The seven students were lined up against the wall, and the intruder threatened to kill the one with the lowest grade point average. Wang said the man told them that he had been kicked out of school and that he needed a lung transplant.
After about 10 minutes, campus police ended the drill by subduing the man.
In April, 32 students at Virginia Tech were killed by student gunman Seung-Hui Cho. That shooting has led schools to examine their emergency plans and conduct safety drills.
For example, UNC-Greensboro held an active shooter exercise in January that was attended by law enforcement and university officials from around the state. But students were not on campus when the drill was held during winter break.