Durham Police Department officers approached residents outside houses on N. Buchanan Boulevard shortly after 6 p.m. Friday night, telling them that there were threats of gang violence targeted at Duke students.
DPD desk officer D. Myatt said rumors of the threat originated from the magistrate's office. A magistrate, however, said he was unaware of any such rumors.
"Duke and Durham police have substantially increased patrol coverage of the area, including Trinity Park, Ninth Street and East Campus," wrote Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, in an e-mail sent to all students 10 p.m. Friday evening.
The house where members of the men's lacrosse team allegedly raped an exotic dancer March 13 is located at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.
Myatt said the threats could not be traced to a credible source, but a Buchanan Boulevard resident said officers did not deny there was a threat when his parents contacted DPD.
"Officers are being proactive with all this mess with the lacrosse team going on," Myatt said. "They're asking people to use common sense, to not be a target in the nighttime."
The warnings come on the heels of reports that several people in cars were harassing students outside houses off East Campus.
Several sources confirmed that at about 5:30 p.m., a passenger in a car extended his arm out the window and pointed his fingers in the shape of a gun toward residents gathered on the porch of 710 N. Buchanan Blvd.
"We had been sitting on our porch hanging out, and at least three cars went by flicking us off, saying 'You'll see,'" senior Bryan Cappelli said.
About 45 minutes later, one source said four or five DPD cars arrived at N. Buchanan Boulevard with lights flashing.
"It's not uncommon for gang members to throw hand gestures wherever they happen to be," Myatt said.
Police officers then told those gathered at the residences, mostly students, that there had been a shooting on Sedgefield Street, several blocks from W. Markham Avenue. A source said the officer told students there might be a drive-by shooting on the houses later that night.
"I think everyone that was there was shocked and very scared," the source added, noting the officers at the houses said the threatening statements had come from an inmate at the Durham County Jail.
Students in many of the houses have left the residences for the night, Moneta said.
Police intimated that someone in the the Office of the Magistrate overheard an inmate mention drive-by shootingss and Duke lacrosse, a second source said.
At 9:30 p.m., the police were stopping and searching every car at the corner of Sedgefield Street and W. Markham Avenue. The intersection is on the corner of East Campus.
Police said there is no connection between the Sedgefield Street shooting and the rumored threats against Duke community members. DPD has no suspects in the Sedgefield Street shooting as of 11 p.m. Friday.
The allegations against the lacrosse team have received international attention in the media, especially in the last few days. Community members have openly expressed outrage at the alleged perpetrators, organizing and attending protests and vigils almost every day this week.
No charges have been made.
The lacrosse players have not spoken publicly about the criminal allegations. The team captains issued a statement Tuesday that categorically denied that any sexual assault occurred that night and stated that DNA results would verify their accounts of the night.
The team has also come under fire for racial remarks they allegedly made to passersby and the dancers at the party.
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