CHAPEL HILL: Man behind campus-wide alert had ties to UNC - WNCN: News, Weather

Man behind campus-wide alert had ties to UNC

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Jesse Kister earned three degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, including two master's. Jesse Kister earned three degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, including two master's.

The man accused of threatening students with knives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over the weekend is no stranger to the university.

Jesse Alan Kister, 31, is a former UNC student himself, obtaining three degrees, two of them master's.

Kister was taken into custody by Chapel Hill Police on Sunday after reports that he threatened students with knives near the Pit on UNC's campus forced the university to sound sirens alerting students and faculty to remain indoors.

After his arrest, Kister was involuntarily admitted to UNC Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. No charges have been filed.

Pictures on his Facebook page tell a different story than what played out Sunday. Kister appears to be a fan of UNC Athletics, posing inside Kenan Stadium in one photo, and next to a wax figure of Michael Jordan in another.

UNC records show Kister graduated with a bachelors degree in Information Science in 2005 before obtaining two master's degrees -- one in Healthcare Administration in 2008 and the other in Information Science in 2011.

Online records also show Kister recently moved back to Chapel Hill from California and was in the process of starting a physical therapy consultation business.

On Monday, a high school friend, who declined to speak on camera, described him as a "genius." Now the Manteo, N.C., native is undergoing a mental evaluation and will likely face multiple charges of communicating threats and assault with a deadly weapon upon his release from the hospital.

Police say that after Kister threatened students on campus with knives, he then fled campus for a nearby church. The rector of the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church on East Franklin Street told WNCN that Kister was found barricaded behind a freezer inside the building.

Police say Kister had four knives in his possession when he was taken away without incident.

"I'm glad it ended peacefully," Rev. Stephen Elkins-Williams said. "Perhaps it shows he really didn't want to hurt anybody and maybe got his way into a situation where he couldn't see his way out."


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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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