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Council Member Phipps Praises Rapid Response To Shooting

UNCC remained on lockdown for several hours after the shooting as CMPD officers searched all buildings.
Chris Crews
Niner Times
UNCC remained on lockdown for several hours after the shooting as CMPD officers searched all buildings.

City Council member Greg Phipps represents the University area of Charlotte and was near the UNC Charlotte campus for hours after Tuesday's fatal shootings. In an interview with host Lisa Worf of WFAE's "Morning Edition," Phipps praised the "rapid, coordinated response" of campus police and CMPD.  He said while gun violence is a major problem, the city's hands are tied when it comes to taking any action to limit guns.  Read and listen to the full interview here. 

Greg Phipps, Charlotte City Council Member
Credit Greg Phipps / Facebook
Greg Phipps, Charlotte City Council Member

WORF: And joining me now is Charlotte City Council member Greg Phipps, who represents the university (area). Mr. Phipps, thanks for joining us.

PHIPPS: Glad to be here.

WORF: You were near campus for many hours last night. Of course we're still learning a lot of details at this point, but what have you learned? 

PHIPPS: Well I mean it's still a fluid situation. We still don't know a lot. I'd be interested in knowing more about the status of the victims that were injured. What are the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the suspect? Were they any clues or any outward display of peculiar behavior that might have tipped off anyone? But the campus is a very spacious, open campus a beautiful campus and you hear about all these shootings around the country. When it hits close to home it really crystallizes the reality of the times that we're living in.

[Share Your Reactions: UNCC Shooting Attack]

WORF: What were you hearing from parents and students yesterday?

PHIPPS: Well everybody was you know shocked and just in remorse over  ... that an incident like this could could happen on the campus. I've been in Charlotte now for what 20 years and we've never had anything like this on the campus. I frequently visit the campus working with the administration now on a host of issues. And it's just a tragic senseless this situation.

WORF: What were your thoughts about, at this point, what you know about how you see Charlotte responded?

PHIPPS - Oh, I think they responded very well. I mean it was a rapid response, coordinated. CMPD provided tactical assistance and they vacated the buildings in an orderly fashion. I saw one clip that I saw that impressed me was you had officers running to the scene as other students were leaving, going in the opposite direction. So I think the rapid response that that they carried out in this matter actually saved lives and avoided a more deadly situation.

WORF: As the city now tries to heal and also examine what happened, what's City Council's role in going forward?

PHIPPS: Well that's you know that's what we're trying to figure out because I mean there's very little we can do in terms of trying to initiate anything related to regulation of firearms. That's something that's handled by the General Assembly. Our hands are tied in that.

WORF:  Does the city council have an advocacy role to play as far as that goes?

PHIPPS:  Well yeah definitely we could we could go in and try to persuade the legislature to to take more action. That's about all we can do and hope for, you know, hope for the best in that regard. But you know heretofore, we haven't had any any real luck with that.

WORF:  This also comes at a time where we've had, it's looking like the most, on pace to have the most homicide deaths in Charlotte at this point. Your thoughts around this shooting and the city's role in moving forward with gun violence.

PHIPPS: Well one of the things that I've done in two successive summers - in the summer of 2017 and in the summer of 2018 - I helped to organize with some of the gun shops in Charlotte a program to encourage people to secure their guns more safely. Because as you may know, a lot of guns are stolen from automobiles, and vehicles and in homes. I think we are on track for even this year over 300 some guns just stolen out of cars. So you know you have a petty crime that could very easily turn into a violent crime, just on guns obtained illegally being stolen out of legitimate gun owners' property. And you know it's just the proliferation of guns is just so wide spread that something has to be done. And hopefully as a community we can use our advocacy role to help us when we go to the General Assembly to lobby for something like that we will have a widespread community support in that regard.

WORF:  As far as the the healing process now what what do you want that to look like as far as the city's efforts? 

PHIPPS: Well I think we have to have a conversation at all levels of our community on it.  You know I had a community meeting on Monday in the Newell area, which is about maybe one mile from the campus. And the meeting was opened with a moment of silence for the victims in California as well as the uptick in gun violence in the city of Charlotte, as well. And now you know the next day here we are facing this situation on a campus of UNC Charlotte .

WORF: Charlotte City Council member Greg Phipps thanks for your time.

PHIPPS: Thank you very much.

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.