A search warrant released Tuesday afternoon revealed the chain of events surrounding a deadly altercation at Liberty University earlier that day that injured a security officer and left a student dead.
The student was Joshua Hathaway, 19, of Lubbock, Texas, a freshman at the Lynchburg, Va., college. The search warrant states that shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday, Hathaway entered Residential Annex II, an off-campus, girls-only dorm. He told the security officer he had been robbed and his car had been stolen.
When the officer began to investigate, the warrant states, Hathaway “pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer.” The officer fired two shots after gaining separation from the struggle, striking Hathaway at least once. Hathaway died, and the officer was treated and released from Lynchburg General Hospital.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. told reporters Tuesday that police quickly decided there was no danger to the main campus. The dorm was not evacuated, and no alert went out to students. Classes continued as scheduled.
“We are deeply saddened by what has happened,” Falwell said at a press conference. “It’s impacted our entire community in ways that we are just beginning to understand.”
According to the warrant, Hathaway’s roommate, Robert Googe, told police that Hathaway had been “displaying unusual behavior recently.” Googe said Hathaway had let on he was having academic and financial problems.
Hathaway was at Liberty on a full academic scholarship, NBC reported, having graduated with a 4.57 GPA from Southcrest Christian School in Lubbock, where his mother teaches.
Hathaway lived near where the altercation took place, in the male portion of the Annex complex. Only residents are allowed in dorms, and men are never allowed in women’s dorms (and vice versa). A curfew is in effect at 4 a.m., Falwell said, meaning students must sign out with a resident adviser to leave to go to the library or another building open late at night.
Falwell said the officer was an emergency medical services worker serving as an overnight security guard at the women’s dorm. He was not a police officer, according to Falwell, but that security guards go through the same training. As standard procedure, the officer has been relieved of duty during the investigation.
Falwell thanked the support Liberty has had from Lynchburg police, as well as from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and presidents of other colleges, who offered prayers and services. Counselors are available to students, Falwell said.
“It’s events like this where we feel like it’s our duty as a Christian university to pull together and to support everybody as much as possible,” Falwell said.
Liberty is the largest evangelical nonprofit university in the nation.