Suspicious student alarms NMU faculty

carson.lemahieu and carson.lemahieu

NMU’s faculty active-shooter plan was successfully utilized this past week after a suspicious person wearing a belt which appeared to be made from bullets was witnessed on campus in the academic mall.

Faculty English member Robert DeChambeau was preparing for an EN111 class he teaches in the West Science building, Thursday, Sept. 20, when he noticed the suspicious individual outside of the front entrance of the building.

The incident occurred just before 2 p.m.

The student was reportedly wearing what appeared to be a belt of bullets, dark sunglasses, combat boots and all black clothing. He also was allegedly carrying a case.

“He was definitely very suspicious,” said DeChambeau.

In accordance with the NMU active shooter policy, which was sent to faculty earlier in the month, DeChambeau secured the room by locking and barricading the door. He then contacted Public Safety.

Public Safety officers responded and determined that the individual was not a threat to students and faculty.

“It appears that this was just a case of clothing being mistaken for something else,” said Jeff Mincheff, assistant director of Police Services. “It appears that this [person] was trying to make a fashion statement.”

The student was spoken to about how his dress could easily be confused and misinterpreted by others on campus, Mincheff said.

Bullet belts are most often made by taking used brass shell casings and capping them with artificial copper bullet tips. Each of these are then linked together to form a chain.

Many merchants selling the belts online advertise them using words such as “aggressive,” and “dangerous looking.”

The Web site even has a disclaimer on their page urging people to “use good judgment on where you wear these belts. Airports, schools and other places might take them from you.”

Last May, Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass. was evacuated after a student was seen on campus wearing a bullet belt similar to the one worn by the student last week at Northern.

The Middlesex Community College student was charged with disturbing the peace.