A Liberty University (LU) student was shot and killed by a campus officer during a shooting at a Liberty women’s dorm Tuesday (Nov. 19) morning.
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 Religion News Service (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 has 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.
Liberty made news earlier this year in an effort to increase campus safety. Its board of trustees approved a new policy allowing students and faculty members with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus, though concealed weapons are not allowed in dorms.
Liberty, the nation’s largest private Christian university, was founded by the late Jerry Falwell and is based in Lynchburg, Va. It describes itself as the largest university in Virginia, with more than 100,000 residential and online students.
“The Liberty University community is deeply saddened by this tragic event and is prayerfully supporting all those impacted,” president Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Sarah Pulliam Bailey joined RNS as a national correspondent in 2013. She has previously served as managing editor of Odyssey Networks and online editor for Christianity Today.)