A 19-year-old Liberty University student was shot and killed early Tuesday at an off-campus women’s dormitory in a confrontation with a campus police officer. University officials said they had received reports that a male student attacked the officer with a sledgehammer in the dorm’s lobby.
Police in Lynchburg, Va., identified the dead student as Joshua Hathaway of Lubbock, Tex. In a warrant filed Tuesday, police said Hathaway approached a security officer and said that he had been robbed. When the officer began to investigate, Hathaway “pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer,” according to the warrant.
Police said the officer fired twice at Hathaway, hitting him at least once and killing him. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment and was released.
Hathaway’s roommate at Liberty told police that Hathaway “had been displaying unusual behavior recently” and that Hathaway “indicated that he had been having some academic and financial difficulties,” according to the warrant.
“The Liberty University community is deeply saddened by this tragic event and is prayerfully supporting all those impacted,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty’s president, in a statement. Classes continued Tuesday.
The incident occurred about 4 a.m. at a hall known as Residential Annex II, on Albert Lankford Drive, a little more than three miles from the main campus.
“This appears to be an isolated incident and there is not any ongoing concern for the safety of students or the community,” Lynchburg police said. “We are not currently seeking any suspects in relation to this incident.”
Liberty University is a 31 / 2-hour drive southwest of Washington, between Charlottesville and the North Carolina border. Originally founded as a small Baptist college by television preacher Jerry Falwell in 1971, the evangelical Christian school enrolls more than 74,000 students — nearly 62,000 of them working toward degrees online — and has become the largest university in Virginia and the largest private, nonprofit university in the country.