November 22, 2013

Liberty University Student Dies in Campus Shooting

BY SARAH PULLIAM BAILEY ©2013 Religion News Service

A Liberty University (LU) student was shot and killed by a campus officer during a shooting at a Liberty women’s dorm on November 19.

Shortly before 4:15 a.m, the student and the LU official were engaged in a “physical altercation,” according to the local newspaper.

Police in Lynchburg, Va., identified the dead 19-year-old student as Joshua Hathaway, of Lubbock, Tex. Police said the officer, who was unidentified, was taken to an area hospital for treatment and was released.

“Joshua Hathaway, a Liberty University student, told the security officer he had been robbed and someone stole his vehicle. The security officer then began to investigate Hathaway’s complaint but Hathaway then pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer,” according to a search warrant affidavit written by Lynchburg police Det. Collin Byrne provided by Liberty to RNS.

The Liberty officer fired two shots at Hathaway, hitting him at least once, which killed him. Officers found the student’s car in a nearby parking lot and are unsure why he said it was stolen. Hathaway’s roommate said he “had been displaying unusual behavior recently,” saying he had been having academic and financial trouble, according to the report.

Liberty policy is that men are not allowed in female residence halls. The all-women’s dorm is off campus. One student estimated that the dorm is five floors and holds about 200 students.

Liberty provided the following statement:

“Liberty University confirms initial reports that there was an altercation between a Liberty University Emergency Services Officer and a male student that led to a shooting last night at a women’s-only residential hall (Residential Annex II) that is under investigation by the Lynchburg Police Department. The entire campus, including Annex I & II, are open and operating as normal.”

All university officers carry firearms, said Liberty spokesman Johnnie Moore. There are more than 45 officers, and Liberty University requires an additional 24-36 hours of training for all officers, requiring recertification twice annually.