Tragedy shook the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill early Monday morning when an apparent murder-suicide on University property claimed the life of a UNC Health Care System employee.
Just as University offices were opening their doors for the week, UNC Public Safety and the Chapel Hill Police Department responded to a 7:41 a.m. call reporting a shooting near the James T. Hedrick Building, which houses several of the health care system’s administrative offices. Randy Young, a spokesperson for public safety, said officers found two victims of fatal gunshot wounds at the scene.
Young said witnesses told the officers that Shennel McCrimon McKendall, 37, an office support assistant in the Hedrick building’s employment office, was walking through a parking lot to work when her husband, Randy Leverne McKendall, 34, got out of a black Ford pickup truck and confronted her. Randy McKendall then reportedly shot his wife with a 9 mm handgun before turning the weapon on himself.
Based on conversations with Shennel McKendall’s coworkers and people who lived near the McKendalls’ home at 612 Mitchell’s Chapel Road in Pittsboro, Young said the couple had been “estranged”—a factor police will examine further in their investigation of the event.
“We’re continuing to interview witnesses, getting in contact with people near where they lived to find out what their relationship may have been like,” Young said, adding that it could take “days... even up to weeks” to conclude the investigation. Until that time, the names of witnesses will not be released.
Lynn Wooten, a spokesperson for the health care system, said the employment offices in the Hedrick building were closed for the day. Counselors, however, remained on-site for employees who wanted to talk—a move Wooten believes helped make “a positive difference” in the wake of the shootings.
“This is a tragic and shocking event to all of those who work out at the Hedrick building,” Wooten said. “Those who were friends of [Shennel McKendall] and knew her well are stunned.”
Wooten said the health care system’s administration and public affairs division will continue communicating with employees about the event over the coming days. Wooten also noted that to his understanding, Shennel McKendall had a child and that there have been preliminary discussions about possibly setting up a donation fund in the child’s name.
Young said next of kin have been notified about the deaths.
Employees working at the Hedrick building could not be reached for comment, and Peter Barnes, senior vice president and director of human resources for the health care system, declined to comment about the “traumatic day.”
Young expressed condolences for the McKendalls’ family and friends, as well as the “greater part of the University community.”
“Anytime... a situation like this occurs in a university setting it’s shocking and certainly regrettable,” he said.