Mike Adams, the former University of North Carolina Wilmington professor who sparked outrage in May over comments he made on Twitter, was found dead in his home Thursday, according to police.
Adams, 55, was found in his home alone during a welfare check, J.J. Brewer, a New Hanover County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, told USA TODAY. Brewer said police are conducting an investigation into his death.
Adams was a tenured sociology and criminology professor who was set to retire early on Aug. 1. He drew backlash in May after tweeting that people who wear masks in public look like "fools," and for calling North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper a "fascist," among other criticisms, for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. He also tweeted that women's studies is a "nonessential major" and pushed for the separation of states from the country.
North Carolina professor wasn't fired: Why? It's called the First Amendment.
After the controversy, Adams announced he'd be retiring early and recently reached a $504,702 settlement with the university for lost salary and lost retirement benefits.
Of the shutdowns caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Adams tweeted, “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."
Adams, who is white, ended the tweet with: "Massa Cooper, let my people go!”
Several Change.org petitions calling for his removal from the university gained thousands of signatures. UNCW issued a statement in June calling Adams’ tweets “vile" but stopped short of firing him.
The university invoked the First Amendment in its statement, saying that, “These comments may be protected, but that is not an excuse for how vile they are. We stand firmly against these and all other expressions of hatred. We cannot and will not ignore them. The university is reviewing all options in terms of addressing the matter.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UNCW professor Mike Adams who retired over tweets found dead