Liberty University Teen Shot Dead by Campus Officer Described as Star Student Who 'Loved the Lord'

Joshua Hathaway, 19, Had Been Behaving 'Unusually' and Having Academic and Financial Issues, Says Roommate; Texas Teen Graduated Salutatorian From Christian High School
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(Photo: WWBT-TV news video)Joshua Hathaway, 19, of Lubbock, Texas, was shot by a campus police officer during an early morning confrontation at a women's only dorm at Liberty University, according to Lynchburg, Va., authorities. Hathaway reportedly attacked the officer with a sledgehammer.
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(Photo: Facebook/Josh Hathaway)Liberty University student Josh Hathaway is seen in this public Facebook profile photo shared on the social network July 2013.
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(Photo: Liberty University/David Duncan)Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, talks with the members of the media Nov. 19, 2013, about a student shot in a confrontation with a campus police officer in Lynchburgh, Va. The student, Joshua Hathaway, reportedly attacked the officer with a sledgehammer.

Joshua Hathaway, the 19-year-old Liberty University student who was fatally shot by an armed campus security officer at a women's-only dorm Tuesday, was an academically excellent young man who of late had been exhibiting strange behavior, according to the Lynchburg Police Department and the Lubbock, Texas, teen's roommate. Those who knew him said Hathaway was an upstanding individual who "loved the Lord."

Hathaway's roommate, Robert Googe, told the detective investigating the fatal shooting that the 19-year-old freshman "had been displaying unusual behavior recently," according to a copy of a search warrant acquired by The Christian Post. Googe also told Detective Collin Byrne, the investigating officer, Hathaway had "indicated that he had been having some academic and financial difficulties."

When asked during a press conference late Tuesday if Hathaway had sought any kind of assistance, including mental health services, from Liberty University staff, school President and Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., said there was no indication that Hathaway had sought out any such services on campus.

Falwell told reporters that Hathaway had a 3.9 GPA, no disciplinary record, and lived in Annex One, the all-male student residence hall near Annex Two, where the Texas teen's violent confrontation with the unidentified security unfolded.

"During the early morning hours of November 19, 2013, Joshua Hathaway approached a Liberty University security officer at the Liberty University residential annex hall located at 3125 Albert Lankford Drive," reads the search warrant.

Hathaway "told the security officer that he had been robbed and someone stole his vehicle," the document continues. "The security officer then began to investigate Hathaway's complaint but Hathaway then pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer. 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 warrant indicates that "at least one projectile" struck Hathaway, who died at the scene. The campus security officer, among a total of 46 armed Emergency Medical Technicians, security guards and police officers working at Liberty University, was treated at a hospital and later released.

The vehicle Hathaway had reported as missing, a white Pontiac with Texas registration, was later found at the scene apparently undisturbed.

A star student who loved the Lord

Although a next of kin had been notified of Hathaway's death, President Falwell told reporters Tuesday that Liberty officials had been unsuccessful in contacting the Texas teen's parents, identified as Mark and Rhonda Hathaway. He also has a younger brother. The university president was concerned with reaching out to the Hathaways to offer support.

"It's events like this where we feel like it's our duty as a Christian university to pull together and support everybody as much as possible," Falwell told reporters. "That's what our focus has been all day today and will continue to be throughout this ordeal."

Special prayers were said for all involved in the tragic shooting during Liberty University's Wednesday morning Convocation.

Students had also set up a makeshift vigil on a tree outside Annex Two for Hathaway.

Falwell said professional counseling services were being offered to students. He reportedly told them at Wednesday's Convocation, "I urge you to get help. Don't wait till it boils over." The university president had previously shared that not only had he received calls from other university presidents expressing sympathy, but many had offered their own counselors to help with servicing students.

Ryan Morris, a Liberty University student, took to the Lynchburg, Va., school's Facebook page to defend Hathaway against any suggestions that the freshman was a "deranged lunatic" or on drugs.

"Just so that everyone know(s) the fact about the student involved in the altercation, he was not a deranged lunatic, or a druggy [sic], or a mentally ill person. He was a good man until the event. He was a close friend of mine. And would help anyone who needed it at the drop of a hat," wrote Morris.

Morris said Hathaway was "not very outgoing necessarily," and that his school work load may have contributed to that.

"Yes he made a poor decision. That inevitably cost him his life. But that doesn't make him inhuman. Yes it was a decision to injure another person. And that is where he stopped seaming like his normal self. And I'm not saying this to blame the officer involved," added Morris.

"The officer did what they had to do in the situation which I also cannot blame them for they were in the right in the moment of the situation. But the reason for this post is to get the truth out about the student so that no one questions the good man he was before the unfortunate event damaging the lives of his family, the officer who had to make the ultimate decision of decisions, the family of sed [sic] officer, of the students of the annex 1 and 2 and the rest of LU students, and ultimately the life of the student. No sides should be picked only sympathy and support for all involved."

According to online notices published in May this year, Hathaway was among 10 other graduates of Southcrest Christian School, a Southcrest Baptist Church ministry that services grades pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade. Hathaway and his peers were the first graduating class from the private Christian school, founded in 1993.

The Liberty University freshman, who was noted for his extracurricular activities that included basketball and the high school band, graduated with a 4.57 GPA and was the high school's Salutatorian speaker this year. He also apparently had a knack for foreign languages and once traveled to Peru on a mission trip.

Hathaway had been accepted to Liberty University on a full scholarship and was studying business.

Susie Driscoll, who taught Hathaway in junior high at Southcrest, said the teen was a "brilliant" student.

"Josh [was] a really great kid," said Driscoll. "We are devastated by the news."

Bill Lane, a Lubbock, Texas, resident and friend of Hathaway's, said the teen loved the Lord and his family.

"Today has been the hardest day in our school's history. One of our best and brightest lost his life under tragic circumstances. No matter the final outcome of what may have happened, nothing will diminish the incredible impact Josh Hathaway had on the lives of so many. He loved the Lord, and loved completely his family and friends," wrote Lane.

Lane said he accompanied Hathaway on his Peru mission trip last year and took the photo shown below, which he shared publicly on Southcrest Christian School's Facebook page.

"We will all miss Josh and never forget him," Lane added, also expressing condolences to Hathaway's family. "As Josh and I hugged each other on the night before he left for college, we agreed on no goodbyes. It was a simple 'see ya later.' So, see ya later in Heaven my sweet young friend."

(Photo: Facebook/Bill Lane)Joshua Hathaway, killed Nov. 19, 2013, in a confrontation with a Liberty University campus police officer, is seen in this 2012 photo during a missions trip to Peru. The image was taken by Hathaway's friend, Bill Lane, who shared it on Facebook with a special message for the Lubbock, Texas, teen and his family: