NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - 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 911 call for a well check at a home in the Bayshore community Thursday afternoon.
Property records confirm that the home belonged to Adams. The 911 call details were released Friday afternoon.
The 911 caller was a friend who was concerned he hadn’t been able to reach Adams and that his car hadn’t moved for days. He said Adams had been erratic lately—not dangerous, just under a lot of stress over the last few weeks.
Officials confirmed the identity of the body as that of Adams and the computer-aided dispatch report noted a “gsw” which is the abbreviation used for gunshot wound. However, the official cause of death has not been confirmed by New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office because the investigation is ongoing.
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.”
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.
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.”
While Adams, who was also a columnist for The Daily Wire and Town Hall, had his critics, he also had supporters. The UNCW chapter of the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative youth organization, called Adams a “free speech warrior” in a tribute to him posted on Twitter.
Adams sued UNCW and won a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit in 2014.
The seven-year legal fight cost the university roughly $700,000.