Vis­it­ing stu­dent killed at U-Md. cam­pus

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY LYNH BUI lynh.bui@wash­post.com

A Satur­day morn­ing stab­bing at the Univer­sity of Mary­land left one man dead in what po­lice are call­ing a “to­tally un­pro­voked” at­tack.

The man killed was a Bowie State Univer­sity stu­dent who was wait­ing for an Uber ride with two friends, said David B. Mitchell, the chief of po­lice at the Col­lege Park cam­pus. The sus­pect in the slay­ing is a U-Md. stu­dent. The sus­pect and stu­dent stabbed did not know each other, Mitchell said.

As of Satur­day af­ter­noon, po­lice had not re­leased the iden­ti­ties of any­one in­volved in the case, pend­ing charges and fam­ily no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

The vi­o­lence shocked stu­dents and ad­min­is­tra­tors of both cam­puses, which are in the mid­dle of spring grad­u­a­tion cel­e­bra­tions.

“I can tell you it rips your heart out,” Mitchell said. “When I sat down with the vic­tim’s fa­ther, who is a mil­i­tary vet­eran, and his pas­tor, we shed tears to­gether.”

The vic­tim was wait­ing with two friends for a ride along Re­gents Drive near Mont­gomery Hall at about 3 a.m. when an­other man “ap­proached and, to­tally un­pro­voked, stabbed the vic­tim in the chest,” Mitchell said.

The vic­tim was taken to a hospi­tal, where he later died.

The as­sailant fled but was picked up shortly af­ter by Prince Ge­orge’s County po­lice, Mitchell said. The vic­tim’s friends iden­ti­fied the sus­pect as the at­tacker.

Po­lice re­cov­ered a fold­ing knife, and the sus­pect had been drink­ing, Mitchell said. The sus­pect is white and the vic­tim was black, but the crime did not ap­pear to be racially mo­ti­vated, he said.

The sus­pect faces first- and sec­ond-de­gree mur­der charges and the in­ci­dent was cap­tured on sur­veil­lance video, Mitchell said.

The Bowie State stu­dent’s fam­ily was “shat­tered” and “very dis­traught,” Mitchell said.

The pres­i­dents of Bowie State and U-Md. said their cam­puses will hold mo­ments of si­lence be­fore their grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies this week in honor of the slain stu­dent.

“Bowie State Univer­sity and the en­tire univer­sity com­mu­nity is very, very sad­dened to have lost this very promis­ing young stu­dent at such a crit­i­cal time in his life,” Bowie State Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Mickey L. Burnim said.

Univer­sity of Mary­land Pres­i­dent Wal­lace D. Loh called the stab­bing a “hor­rific event” and was vis­i­bly shaken at a news con­fer­ence with Burnim and po­lice Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“I’m still in a state of shock, of an­guish, of sor­row,” Loh said. “A young man’s life has been taken away from all of us. It doesn’t mat­ter if he is from Bowie State or Univer­sity of Mary­land. It makes no dif­fer­ence. He died, and that should not have hap­pened.”

Bowie State and U-Md. of­fered coun­sel­ing for stu­dents in light of the vi­o­lence. There hasn’t been a homi­cide on cam­pus in at least 10 years, as far back as the po­lice de­part­ment has been keep­ing pub­lic safety stats, said Mitchell, who called the fatal stab­bing “to­tally ex­tra­or­di­nary for our cam­pus.”

Michael De­lash, a 24-year-old ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent, said he re­ceived sev­eral alerts from po­lice about the stab­bing. The news shocked De­lash and his room­mates, who are used to re­ceiv­ing po­lice alerts for in­ci­dents that hap­pen around cam­pus for in­ci­dents that aren’t nearly as tragic.

“I was sur­prised that it was so se­ri­ous,” De­lash said. “Gen­er­ally peo­ple on cam­pus are very civ­i­lized and ac­cept­ing.”

While po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the stab­bing, U-Md. was abuzz with stu­dents pre­par­ing for fi­nals or cel­e­brat­ing com­mence­ment with their fam­i­lies.

“This is sup­posed to be a joy­ous time in your life,” said Amanda Gaines, 22, a jour­nal­ism stu­dent who was pos­ing for pho­tos in her cap and gown with fam­ily that flew in from Flor­ida. “It’s un­for­tu­nate that peo­ple have to suf­fer from losses at this time.”

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