Duke University officials alerted students Friday to a rumor of a planned "drive-by shooting" of a house near Duke's East Campus but emphasized there was no reliable information to support the rumor.
The rumor reportedly resulted from a man who said in a Durham magistrate's office that he planned to shoot at the house on N. Buchanan Boulevard, where members of the Duke men's lacrosse team held a March 13 party where a sexual attack allegedly occurred. Team members have denied the criminal allegations and no charges have been filed.
Durham Police officials reportedly responded to the rumor by alerting Duke students who live near the house. They said the incident is unrelated to two gang-related, retaliatory shootings earlier Friday in Walltown, several blocks from East Campus. Durham Police are investigating the shootings. Duke and Durham Police have substantially increased patrol coverage of the area including Trinity Park, Ninth Street and East Campus. They said the coverage will remain in place for as long as necessary.
Shortly before 10 p.m., Duke Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta shared the information in an email message that he sent "with great discomfort," saying "I neither want to create any sense of hysteria for the Duke and Trinity Park communities nor withhold the existence of this information."
The text of Moneta's message follows below. Updates or related information, if needed, will be provided on Duke's police news website, http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/police.html.
I write to inform you of a rumor I've just learned. I don't have a way of validating the credibility of the rumor as it came to us third hand from the Durham Police to various members of the Duke community.
What we've heard is threats of "drive by shooting" of the lacrosse house in the Trinity Park area. As of the time I write this (approximately 9pm), we are aware of a gang-related shooting that took place this afternoon on Sedgefield Street in Walltown (several blocks from Trinity Park). We are assured by Durham Police that this is not related to Duke in any way. We also have a report that passengers in a car yelled at Duke students in houses on Buchanan Street.
I share this information with great discomfort. I neither want to create any sense of hysteria for the Duke and Trinity Park communities nor withhold the existence of this information. We've spoken with several of the students who live in those houses and many have chosen to stay elsewhere tonight.
Duke and Durham Police have substantially increased patrol coverage of the area including Trinity Park, Ninth Street and East Campus. That coverage will remain in place for as long as necessary. I would suggest that until we have information to discredit or validate this rumor, we all take appropriate precautions.
Unfortunately, tensions are very high right now and may not abate for awhile. I would anticipate further rumors and conflicting information and we'll do our very best to keep you informed. Most important will be to care for each other as we all struggle with these challenges. We have work to do to restore confidence in our community and I have absolute belief that we can and will.
Please contact Duke Police *anytime* if you feel threatened or have information related to any unsafe situations. Call 911 or 684-2444 for immediate support.
Vice President for Student Affairs