UNCW professor Mike Adams’ death ruled suicide, deputies say

Mike Adams, a controversial professor was found dead inside his home.
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 6:53 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 7:51 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - UNCW professor Mike Adams died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a news release from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to Adams’ home located at 328 Windsong Road in the Bayshore community around noon on Thursday, July 23 for a check welfare call.

A 911 caller told New Hanover County dispatchers that they were concerned about Adams after they hadn’t heard from him in days and his car hadn’t moved, according to records released by the county. The caller added that Adams had acted erratically prior and was likely under a lot of stress.

When deputies managed to gain entry into the home, they found Adams deceased in a bedroom.

“Detectives began their investigation in partnership with the medical examiner and it was ascertained that Mr. Adams committed suicide with a single gunshot wound to the head,” the news release stated.

No one else was in the home at the time of the incident and no foul play is suspected, the sheriff’s office says.

Adams, the controversial UNCW professor who taught criminology and sociology, was set to retire from the university in a little over a week.

In June, UNCW announced it reached a deal with Adams to retire on Aug. 1 following a series of inflammatory comments Adams made on his social media accounts.

Mike Adams, a controversial professor who was set to retire from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in a little more than a week, was found dead inside his home on Windsong Road in New Hanover County, according to investigators.

Deputies with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in the Bayshore community Thursday afternoon.

Property records confirm that the home belonged to Adams.

Officials have confirmed the identity of the body but provided no further information about what may have happened.

In June, UNCW announced it reached a deal with Adams to retire on Aug. 1.

According to a statement posted on the university’s Facebook page, the decision came after Adams, in light of public attention generated by comments he made on his social media accounts, had a meeting with Chancellor Jose Sartarelli.

[ UNCW announces that controversial professor Mike Adams to retire on Aug. 1 ]

Sartarelli said after an extensive negotiation process, the two parties agreed to a total settlement of $504,702.76 for lost salary and lost retirement benefits. The agreement was approved by the North Carolina Attorney General and the UNC Board of Governors.

Prior to the agreement, petitions calling for his removal garnered thousands of signatures.

Adams, a sociology and criminology professor, made national headlines before for his polarizing statements involving race, gender, and sexual orientation.

On May 29, after Gov. Roy Cooper lifted some restrictions put into place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, Adams posted on Twitter, “This evening, I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!”

Despite complaints about overreach by the governor during the Coronavirus pandemic, many saw Adam’s use of the racially insensitive slave master term as offensive, and therefore inappropriate given his position as a university professor.

Adams defended his post to WECT, saying the slave master analogy he was making had to do with the Governor’s oppression during the shutdown, not race. But his opponents point to other comments he has made in the past that they feel gives context to “Massa Cooper” comment.

This comment - and others - led to a former trustee of the university threatening to pull his donations.

In 2016, Adams made national news after calling a student a “queer Muslim.”

[ Hundreds of criminology professors, grad students join nationwide call for UNCW to fire Mike Adams ]

The Office of University Relations on behalf of the Division of Academic Affairs at UNCW released a statement about his death on Thursday night.

“It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts. Students may call the University Counseling Center (910.962.3746) for grief support; faculty and staff can seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.”

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