Liberty University Student Shot to Death After Alleged Attack on Officer with Sledgehammer

Liberty shootingLYNCHBURG, Va. — A Liberty University student was shot dead at an off campus dormitory early this morning after he reportedly attacked a campus officer with a sledgehammer.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:00 a.m. at Annex II, a dormitory that houses an estimated 200 female students. Details have yet to be provided as to why the male student was in the female dorm in the early hours of the morning, but university policies outline that “males are not allowed in female residence halls.”

“We have received reports that a Liberty University Emergency Services Officer was attacked by a male student in the lobby of a women’s-only dorm early this morning,” the university outlined in a brief statement Tuesday morning. “The student was shot and killed and the officer was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment. The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating the matter and Liberty University is cooperating.”

The student has now been identified as 19-year-old Joshua Hathaway of Lubbock, Texas. Hathaway is reported to have attacked the officer with a sledgehammer, at which time he was shot dead. The unnamed officer was sent to the Lynchburg General Hospital to treat his wounds and released.

“I just kept hearing constant bangs, like 6 or 7 pops. I didn’t know what it was,” one student told WSET-TV.

“Preliminary investigation indicates that shots were fired by a Liberty University Emergency Services Officer during a physical altercation with a male student,” the Lynchburg Police Department confirmed in a statement. A news release was also held this afternoon to provide further information about the attack.

“This is an isolated incident,” Lt. Dave Gearhart outlined. “There is not any ongoing concern for the safety of students or the community. We are not currently seeking any suspects in relation to this incident.”

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Classes continued today as normal.

Liberty University was founded by evangelical leader Jerry Falwell in 1971. The school enrolls more than 74,000 students, with nearly 62,000 enrolled online. It is stated to be the largest private university in the country, and is currently led by Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell, Jr.

“The Liberty University community is deeply saddened by this tragic event and is prayerfully supporting all those impacted,” Falwell stated following the incident.

The university has come under scrutiny in recent months over a number of issues surrounding the behavior of students and the lack of response from university officials. Earlier this year, Liberty graduate Brandon Ambrosino—who is now enrolled at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary—outlined in an essay his personal experience of coming out as a homosexual on campus.

“When people find out I underwent therapy at Jerry Falwell’s Christian college, they assume I went through something like gay reparative therapy. But that isn’t what happened,” he wrote in the piece, entitled Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University. “I saw two counselors at Liberty … and neither of them ever expressed an interest in ‘curing’ me. Did they have an agenda? Yes. Their goal, which they were very honest about, was to help me to like myself, and to find peace with the real Brandon.”

Others expressed concern in March when videos surfaced online of Liberty University students participating in questionable renditions of the Harlem Shake. One Liberty University video captured a student sporting a yellow shirt with the words “I pee in pools” as he gyrated on top of a couch with his shirtless friends. Another video from Liberty, entitled, Two Men, One Dorm, showed two men dancing, one suggestively, who eventually strips down to only a pair of long underwear.

Both videos are still posted online after concern was expressed about the matter.


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