Greensboro is unfortunately getting used to shootings, but the city isn’t used to downtown triple shootings in broad daylight right next to multiple law enforcement and justice centers.
That’s one reason why the triple shooting on Monday, Nov. 16 just outside the Guilford County Courthouse in Downtown Greensboro – which left one victim dead and two injured – sent such strong shockwaves through the government employees who work in the area, and who, until Monday, had something of a sense of workplace security.
One Guilford County employee who works in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro, a building adjacent to the courthouse, said that the ordinary Monday was disrupted when employees in the building began hearing multiple gunshots ring out. Those who were at the east end of the Old Court House didn’t hear the shots but those on the west end did, and word of the shooting quickly spread through the building and the area.
Guilford County employees in this type of situation get emergency warnings and lockdown notices through computer alerts. However, for much of Monday afternoon, details were scarce, rumors were flying and many county workers were unsure what action to take to remain safe.
Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen said that his office, which borders the governmental plaza, got notice to lock down – but he added that he hopes this incident makes it clear to everyone that that sensitive area of the city needs more safety measures in place.
“It was a very disorienting few minutes,” Thigpen said of the shooting and the warning to employees. “The software program alerts staff to stay in place but does not give details.”
He said that a “shelter in place” warning was issued but no one knew much more than that at the time. He said that even some bare details on the exact location and nature of the incident would help staff know what actions to take.
“I hope this is one more wake-up call to act quickly and make sure everyone is getting all the information we need to be safe,” he said.
Thigpen said there’s a very large amount of government activity along the plaza and the whole area is used and overseen by many disparate entities. He said it made sense to have everyone involved team up for a coordinated security plan.
The courthouse is a county-owned building occupied by some state workers with security provided by the county security, contracted security and bailiffs. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and the Greensboro Police Department each have a big presence in the courthouse and in the vicinity.
Thigpen said that given the sensitive nature of some of the operations going on around the plaza justifies special security measures. The area is sometimes the site of protests, high-profile trials, jail escapes and other events that could warrant security. Thigpen pointed out that, just last week, election officials were conducting business for the 2020 election in the courthouse – an election that’s galvanized many citizens.
Thigpen added that, with all the different players in such a high-profile area, establishing a very good communication system between all would be a good start toward enhancing security.