TARBORO, NC (WTVD) — A 24-year-old student brought rifles and ammunition to a school campus, Tarboro Police Department said.
Monday morning, a faculty member noticed Jason William Messenbrink acting erratically in a parking lot near the edge of the Edgecombe Community College campus. The faculty member told campus security, who called for backup and caught up with Messenbrink in class.
Investigators then got permission to search through Messenbrink’s vehicle, where they found three rifles and ammunition.
“(The faculty member) happened to be going out. She could have chalked it up to ‘oh this student is having a bad day. Let me get on out of here.’ You know or anything. But she didn’t. She recognized that at least some intervention or at least some external review, perhaps by a trained officer, in this case, to intervene and look at the situation. So thankfully she did,” Edgecombe Community College President Dr. Greg McLeod said.
After the arrest, more security experts were brought to campus to search for other dangerous materials. Students and faculty were evacuated and classes were canceled. Crews found no other security concerns and classes resumed the normal schedule Tuesday.
“Honestly, I thought it was just a training drill, but when it came to (it), when I saw the K-9 units and all the other police cars around, scoping out the scene, I knew it was more serious. So I did have thoughts like ‘oh man. This could be it.’ I’m not armed, there could be a crazy man running around. I didn’t know what to think. But I held it down, and my classmates were OK,” said one student enrolled in the school’s Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET ) Academy.
“It’s sad to say that the world now, it’s kind of like something you get used to but it is kind of frightening how it can hit so close to home,” added Trevor Briley, who is also in the BLET Academy.
Messenbrink just enrolled as a student this semester and had no prior issues on campus. He has since drawn from classes.
Tarboro Police Chief Jesse Webb said officers have spoken with Messenbrink, as they continue to process evidence.
“Certainly (he made) excuses. There was no determined intent that we’ve discovered yet. Naturally, we’re still processing evidence that was collected from the vehicle,” Webb said.
Officers did not discover any additional evidence during a search of his home in Williamston, and Tarboro police officers had not had any prior interactions with Messenbrink.
Messenbrink is being held at the Edgecombe County Detention Center on a charge of possession of a firearm on educational property.
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