Questions Remain After Liberty University Student Shot to Death for Hammer Attack

Liberty ULYNCHBURG, Va. — Questions still remain after a Liberty University student was shot to death this week when he reportedly attacked a security guard in the middle of the night with a hammer.

As previously reported, the incident occurred at approximately 4:00 a.m. at Annex II, a dormitory that houses an estimated 200 female students. The student involved, 19-year-old Joshua Hathaway of Lubbock, Texas, lived in the male dormitory across the street.

A search warrant surrounding the matter reveals that Hathaway approached the security officer, claiming that he had been robbed and his car had been stolen.

“During the early morning hours of November 19, 2013, Joshua Hathaway approached a Liberty University security officer at the Liberty University residential annex hall,”  the warrant outlines. “[He] told the security officer that 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,” it continues. “A struggle ensued between Hathaway and the security officer. At some point during the struggle there was separation and the security officer fired two rounds at Hathaway.”

The student was struck at least once and died on the scene.

But investigators state that questions still remain as to why Hathaway was at the female dorm, and why he had claimed that his vehicle had been stolen when it was located in the parking lot.

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Detective Collin Byrne also spoke with Hathaway’s roommate, Robert Googe, who said that Hathaway had been “displaying unusual behavior recently” and he “had indicated that he had been having some academic and financial difficulties.”

However, Hathaway had arrived at Liberty University on a full scholarship and was salutatorian of his graduating class in Texas. Linda Merritt of Southwest Christian School in Lubbock told KCBD that Hathaway was well-liked at the school.

“Our country has lost a young man who loved the Lord with all his heart, who worked hard to achieve and succeed,” she said. “He was a young man who had the heart of others in mind.”

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell addressed students about the matter on Wednesday, expressing his shock and sympathies.

“No one knows what was going through Joshua’s head,” he said.

“When I heard I felt disbelief and was puzzled and saddened immediately. I’m a parent of a college student and I can’t even imagine,” Falwell added to USA TODAY. “Our first concern is the students and the community … letting the police do their job. We hope answers come out in the next few days.”

The university is offering counseling for students struggling with the tragedy.

Reports do not yet indicate whether any internal policy changes will be made to monitor concerning student behavior and provide Biblical assistance and/or discipline to troubled students.

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