Updated: One arrested after fire alarm pulled, gun brandished at Catawba

Published 4:58 pm Sunday, February 12, 2023

(Updated: This story was updated to reflect new information obtained on Feb. 14)

By Chandler Inions and Elisabeth Strillacci

SALISBURY — Police arrested one man, who is not a student, Monday morning in connection with having a gun on the campus of Catawba College on Sunday morning.

John Milton Thomas, 22, was arrested and charged with assault by pointing a gun, having a weapon on a school campus and false fire alarm. Thomas was jailed under a bond of $5,000 and expected to appear in court later Monday. Salisbury police have confirmed a warrant has been issued for a second suspect, Mahki Profit.

Students at Catawba College were awoken in the middle of the night by a fire alarm that also involved Thomas allegedly brandishing a firearm. Another non-student was with Thomas but police have not made any additional arrests.

According to a statement from Dr. Jared Tice, Catawba College dean of students, at approximately 2:57 a.m., Catawba College Public Safety responded to a fire alarm triggered at Woodson Hall.

It is believed that the alarm was pulled by the two men who were on campus but neither of whom are students and who reportedly gained access to the building with assistance from two Catawba students.

Upon Salisbury Police officers’ arrival, they reportedly learned that two individuals had came to Catawba to confront a student about an earlier incident with one of their girlfriends, who is a current Catawba student.  One of the individuals was armed with an unknown type of handgun and reportedly pointed it at other students who had exited their room when the fire alarm was activated.

Reports indicated that is was Thomas who brandished the weapon.

No gun was fired, and no physical injuries occurred. Both Thomas and the other individual involved reportedly exited the building and campus immediately. Catawba College sent a shelter-in-place notice to campus at 3:05 a.m. using the CatawbAlerts system.

Salisbury Police and other emergency agencies also responded to the scene. With assistance from the Office of Public Safety, Salisbury Police conducted a sweep of the campus. Once completed, the college sent an all-clear notice at 4:17 a.m.

The Salisbury Police Department continues to investigate the incident. Additionally, the Office of Student Conduct is investigating any student involvement in this situation.

The campus did send out a third alert on the notification system explaining what caused the shelter-in-place alert. The system posts to multiple outlets and anyone can sign up, including nearby neighbors.