A DukeAlert sent out Sunday morning informed the Duke community that gunshots were reported near the Al Buehler Cross Country Trail on campus, but one Durham resident has raised concerns that community members are not being adequately informed.

According to the DukeAlert, shots were reportedly fired at 10:40 a.m. from a “burgundy-color vehicle” traveling north on the U.S. 15-501 highway. The Chronicle spoke to Durham ophthalmologist Dr. Tonica Johnson, who said she was shot at and recounted what she witnessed. In addition, Johnson raised concerns about which police department has proper jurisdiction over an incident that does not clearly occur on or off campus.

Johnson said she was running on the Al Buehler Trail—part of which runs alongside the 15-501 highway—at about 10:20 a.m. Sunday. She then heard two loud noises, which she thought were gunshots. Johnson and another woman walking toward her on the trail stopped and saw a “maroon-colored pickup truck” driving slowly northbound on the highway, she said. 

“I saw a flash of smoke coming from the passenger window, and it was aimed at us. It was clearly a gun being shot,” Johnson said.

She added that the car was moving too slowly to have been in a lane on the highway, but must have been driving on the shoulder and firing out the passenger window.

As Johnson and the other woman who witnessed the car ran off the trail and onto the nearby Washington Duke Inn golf course, she said she heard one or two more shots fired. Several other people on the trail and on the golf course also reported hearing gunshots, Johnson added.

After calling 911, Johnson said that she reported the incident to Duke University Police Department officers. Durham Police Department officers never came, she said. 

She also explained that she called the DPD later on Sunday, and after not receiving a response, called again several hours later. She was told by an officer that “the call had been cleared because the Duke police were handling it," she said. 

The University owns property on both sides of a stretch of the 15-501 highway. According to a 2012 security report, DUPD jurisdiction "includes property owned by Duke University" and "adjacent public streets and side-walks."

Johnson said the case to DUPD was confusing, given that the vehicles were driving away from campus on the highway. 

“I know that I was on Duke property, but the people shooting were on 15-501 driving toward Durham. My concern is that they’re still out there driving around,” she said. “I think that the Durham police should’ve been involved [because] the shooters were on 15-501.”

DPD Public Affairs Specialist Kammie Michael wrote in an email Monday morning that only DUPD was handling the case. Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh confirmed that DUPD will take the lead on the investigation, but added that they will work with DPD as necessary.

This might be consistent with a memorandum of understanding between DUPD and DPD, said Jonathan Jones—an instructor at Elon University and director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.

“The Duke Police Department and the Durham Police Department have a mutual understanding, a formal memorandum of understanding, over jurisdiction on crimes that occur on or near campus that extends the DUPD’s jurisdiction beyond just the physical boundary of campus to a set distance,” Jones said.

Jones added that hearing shots fired in Durham is not uncommon, and that if no one was injured—as the DukeAlert indicated—DUPD would likely consider it to be a higher priority than DPD would.

Cavanaugh confirmed Monday night that there were no further updates to report.

“They’ve canvassed the area,” he said. “They’ve not been able to find any casings or anything that would indicate exactly where the shots would come from.”

Duke students, faculty and staff receive DukeAlerts by text and email when there is “confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation,” in accordance to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

People without a valid NetID cannot register for the DukeAlert service, according to the DukeAlert webpage. Cavanaugh also confirmed the University does not send messages to Durham community members unaffiliated with the University. 

Johnson said, however, that she was concerned that other members of the Durham community were not made aware that the incident had occurred or that a potentially dangerous suspect could still be driving around and firing at people.

“Unless you’re associated with Duke, the people in the community don’t know that this happened,” she said. “The main thing is that I want people in the community to know about it. I don’t see how the person who fired the gun will be found if only the Duke police are involved. They weren’t on Duke’s campus, they were on the highway.”