Liberty University student attacked officer with hammer before he was fatally shot

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WTVR) - Liberty University student Joshua Hathaway, 19, of Lubbock, Texas, was shot and killed by a campus police officer. Hathaway was shot during a fight with the university officer at  4:07 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, Lynchburg police said.

Hathaway was shot and killed at an off-campus residential facility Tuesday morning after he attacked an armed security officer with a hammer, according to a search warrant obtained by affiliates WDBJ.

The search warrant states that Hathaway approached the security officer and said he had been robbed and someone stole his vehicle. The officer began investigating Hathaway’s complaint, when Hathaway suddenly pulled out a hammer from his clothing and assaulted the officer, the warrant states.

A struggle ensued. Next the officer fired twice at Hathaway, according to the warrant. Hathaway was hit by at least one bullet.

"There was an altercation between a Liberty University Emergency Services Officer and a male student that led to a shooting last night at a women’s-only residential hall (Residential Annex II) that is under investigation by the Lynchburg Police Department," the university released in a statement.

"The entire campus, including Annex I & II, are open and operating as normal. This appears to be an isolated incident and there is not any ongoing concern for the safety of students or the community."

"The Liberty University Emergency Services Officer involved in this incident was treated by, and released from, the Lynchburg General Hospital Emergency Department," the Lynchburg Police Department said.

Hathaway’s roommate told police that Hathaway had been acting unusual recently, according to the search warrant. The roommate also said that Hathaway had been experiencing some academic and financial difficulties.

As a student, Hathaway seemingly excelled, according to reporting by WDBJ. He had a 4.5 grade-point average in high school, and attended Liberty University on a full scholarship to study business.

Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the world, according to the school's website. It was founded the late Jerry Falwell Sr. in 1971.

Check back with and watch CBS 6 News for updates. CNN contributed to this report. 


  • Tar Zan

    “the shooting happened at the university-owned Quality Inn hotel. The building serves as a student dorm.” This sounds like an ON-campus shooting to me. I’ll hold my judgement until there are more details, however I hope the use of force was justified.

    • Tommy

      The dorm is an old hotel and is located about three miles from the main campus. It is serving as temporary housing while the new dorms are being built on campus.

    • Stephen

      I agree that it could have shown more compassion for the family of the student. However, it may have been worded that way because the officer may have acted in self-defense. Other news sites are suggesting that the officer was attacked before shooting. Falwell just released a statement calling it a “tragic event”, which is probably appropriate given that it may have been a self-defense act by a police officer. Still a sad incident though.

  • Rikki Ranger

    The early statement from Liberty (which is, of course, waiting for the wrap up of the initial police investigation) is that the student attacked the officer with a sledgehammer, and the officer is hospitalized. It is some what dismaying that this report implied that the student was somehow shot because he was in a women’s dorm. This certainly was not the case.

  • Tommy

    ^ Yes, it is sad how much the media will construe everything to make it sound so much worse than what it is… or even completely different. Some of the media is including the guidelines about concealed carry on the campus and are making it sound like the guy was shot and killed because he was at an all female dorm at 4:00AM. Come on, seriously… let’s not be all dramatic! The police officer who was routinely keeping watch over the female dorms was attacked by a male with a sledgehammer.

  • Tommy

    Also, some of the media is making it seem like the university is crazy for not cancelling classes because of a threat… No, not really… because the students can conceal carry.

  • Richard Sutter

    If it is a women’s only dorm at a Christian university, the security officer may have been making certain something like this (male intruder) would Never happen again. Good.

  • Tim Peter

    Maybe he was not killed solely for being in the dorm, but that’s most likely what prompted the officer to investigate. The previous comments seem to imply that the student’s reported presence in the dorm was unrelated to his death. At the same time, media reports should have mentioned – if known – that the student allegedly attacked the officer. However, I’d they’re reporting based exclusively on official reports from police & university statements and not from eye witnesses (which is bad reporting), they may not have known about the alleged attack. Sometimes these incidents are Bobbie released to the public by the officials involved.

  • Tommy

    The police officer was routinely checking on the ladies dorms at 4:00AM. He was attacked by a man with a handheld sledgehammer. He was struck multiple times over the head and managed to use his gun to protect himself.

  • Andrea Batts

    This is such a tragedy, and it looks like Liberty is handling this superbly. Prayers to everyone involved, and hopefully the facts will simply be presented, and this won’t get blown out of proportion.

  • Heidi Fedima

    I’ve been impressed with the amount of support Liberty University is providing for staff and students during this tragedy. I’ve been equally impressed with Jerry Falwell’s leadership during crisis. Talk about every college parent’s worst fear – it’s very reassuring to see the Liberty community rallying together.

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