Students attending North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro were surprised to learn that a man had been arrested on campus after being found with several firearms plus more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition on March 26.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that 27-year-old Brandon James Bentley was seen at approximately 4 a.m. driving erratically near Sullivan Street and Benbow Road in a 2004 Ford Mustang. After Bentley — who is white — “ran right up to officers asking for help,” as court documents described, they noticed several weapons in his vehicle on the historically Black college and university campus.
Greensboro police later found two shotguns, a rifle, two handguns, a machete, a crossbow, a stun gun, a hatchet, choking devices, pepper spray, a blowdart gun, brass knuckles and a sword in Bentley’s vehicle. Bently allegedly asked the officers for help, saying that a religious cult he found on social media was after him and he was “terrified.” Also found in the Mustang was a window breaker, a chicken foot and “holy water.”
An explosive device that turned out to be fireworks was also found in the vehicle. All of the items found were seized by the Greensboro Police Department, and the 27-year-old was arrested. However, students and employees did not receive an email advisory about the potential threat until April 3.
A junior at the college, Shelby Samuels, said she was upset there was no warning or alerts sent out about the arrest, especially since hate crimes are an issue for the HBCU. Last year, the FBI investigated bomb threats made against 57 HBCUs through e-mails, phone calls, direct messages as well as anonymous posts on social media.
“Nothing was talked about, no alerts were sent, we have an alert system for these reasons,” she said. “Like, a part of me is like angered by it. ‘Cause, like, we’re an HBCU campus, like, hate crimes are a thing so to think he was so close to his goal of coming on this campus and doing what he wanted to do and us not know a thing about it.”
Another student, freshman Demiara Cockerham, was also surprised that no alerts were sent to the students on campus.
“For real? Y’all didn’t want to say nothing to us it’s like, we live here we stay here, like…” said Cockerham. “My parents live an hour and some change away. … If there wasn’t no cops out there, he could have come to our door, I mean our dorm with all of those weapons, and, you know, lord knows what he would have done to us.”
Cockerham added that she understands that the HBCU may not have wanted to cause commotion but that not notifying the students for so long was shocking.
“We have to sit at night and think ‘Oh we’re gonna have to get up and barricade our door with our beds’ and we should not have to think that,” said Cockerham.
Jannisha Stevens also attends the university and says she was distressed to learn that no alert was sent about the threat.
“I don’t think that it was handled well,” said Stevens. “To hear about torture mechanism tools is really scary and I don’t know why he would have that. Who is it for? Is it for somebody on this campus? I should know what’s going on campus. Especially something like this, for it to be kept from us…what is it? Is it an agenda or anything like that? Because I want to be able to protect myself if I see somebody like that or someone suspicious, so I can report it instead of being completely clueless.”
North Carolina A&T State University released a statement after the news broke noting that no alert was sent because the threat had been stopped by law enforcement.
“Because of the quick and decisive action of law enforcement, a campus alert was not issued, as the suspect no longer constituted an ongoing threat to campus safety,” read the statement.
Bentley was described in court documents as being in a “very dangerous mental state.” He was released on a $100,000 secured bond and will next appear in court on April 25.