Tarboro police: Man with rifles linked to hate group arrested at Edgecombe Community College

TARBORO, N.C. (WITN) – Police say a man linked to a hate group was arrested with three rifles and ammunition at a community college in the east Monday.

Tarboro police say it was around 11:35 am, an alert faculty member at Edgecombe Community College saw a man acting erratically in a parking lot near the back of campus.

The faculty member notified security, an off-duty member of the Tarboro Police Department, who immediately requested additional assistance in locating the man, later identified as 24-year-old Jason Messenbrink of Williamston.

Officers converged on a classroom and detained Messenbrink without a problem and then searched his vehicle where they say they found the guns, ammunition, and hate group material.

Officers evacuated the buildings that Messenbrink had entered as a safety precaution based on the information that had been collected. Once the buildings had been evacuated, they searched with explosive detection canines but did not find anything suspicious.

Messenbrink is charged with possession of a firearm on educational property and was placed in the Edgecombe County Detention Center under a $750,000.00 bond.

The college says Messenbrink was a student at ECC and that’s why he was in a classroom. The college’s president, Greg McLeod, says the Williamston man is no longer attending ECC due to their no weapons on campus rule. He said they were in the process today of disabling Messenbrink’s student accounts and access to buildings.

A law enforcement student at the college said the scary situation was handled so swiftly that they thought the lockdown was a drill.

“I thought it was a training drill,” Cadet Briley said. “I felt like this is what it’s all about, you know, we are going to be in situations like this.”

Police say additional charges are possible.

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