The President of West Virginia University has spoken out after multiple violent events left one student dead and another injured.
21-year-old WVU student Eric James Smith of New Jersey was killed in a shootout Friday morning around 4 a.m. at College Park. The shooting happened at a University-run apartment complex.
Both 21-year-old Terrell Linear and 20-year-old Shaundarius T. Reeder, both from Fairmont, West Virginia, are facing first-degree murder charges in relation to the deaths. Neither of the men are students at WVU.
Not even 24 hours later, another student was injured in a shooting that took place in the 900-block of College Avenue. Morgantown Police arrested two suspects, 29-year-old Edward Kolleh and 20-year-old Ethan Horseman in connection to the shooting. The condition of the victim is unknown at this time.
Yesterday, West Virginia University President E. Gorden Gee released a statement to the Mountaineer community following the incident. The president went on to discuss the measures that the university takes to ensure student safety, including mental health services, University Police and more. He ended the statement by saying he looks after the students as if they are his own.
READ WVU PRESIDENT E. GORDON GEE’S FULL STATEMENT:
“Dear West Virginia University family,
Early Saturday morning, our campus community was alerted to another shooting that took place place off-campus. The incidents that have taken place in the past two days have our campus concerned and unnerved. The loss of one of our students and the injury of another is a tragedy that should never have occurred.
I realize it may feel that West Virginia University is no longer a safe campus. I want to reassure everyone that our University has a commitment each and every day to keep our campus as safe as possible. When acts of violence do happen, we are fully prepared to act — from our University Police at the scene to our mental health services and CARE team after an incident takes place. Over the last few days, we have called upon these resources and more to make sure all feel cared for and safe.
These two events are certainly shocking, and the University is responding with all possible resources to determine what additional measures can be taken to prevent them from happening again. We will also partner with local and state agencies in those discussions.
But the events of Friday and Saturday remain an aberration to our life here.
Our University Police do an outstanding job of protecting our campus and responding when things go wrong. Our campus is a small city and a microcosm of the world around us. The sad fact is our part of the world is also beset with all the ill — and good — of society at large. We cannot stop bad things from happening — but we can work to prevent them and be prepared for when they do.
As we work on additional measures, I encourage you to be familiar with the safety procedures and resources we currently have on campus. I urge you to visit safety.wvu.edu to review all safety information.
As I say often, I care about our students as if they were my own children, and I want us all to be safe. I pledge to all Mountaineers, both current and future, that we will redouble our efforts to ensure our campus is the safest it can possibly be.
E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University“