Associated Press Published

West Virginia University President Responds After 2 Shootings


The president of West Virginia University released a letter Sunday emphasizing the university’s commitment to safety after two recent shootings near the Morgantown campus, one of them involving a fatality.

WVU President Gordon Gee wrote to the community that the campus of more than 26,000 students is “concerned and unnerved” but that the shootings on Friday and Saturday “remain an aberration to our life here.”

Two people were arrested in  Friday’s shooting at a student housing apartment complex and charged with first-degree murder. Neither was a student. The university identified the victim as Eric James Smith, 21, a sophomore majoring in multidisciplinary studies from Clementon, New Jersey. Smith was a former resident of the apartment complex.

Early Saturday, two men were arrested in an apartment shooting that left one person injured. Morgantown police said the victim and another person had been invited to the apartment for a marijuana purchase that turned into a robbery attempt.

“I realize it may feel that West Virginia University is no longer a safe campus,” Gee said. “I want to reassure everyone that our University has a commitment each and every day to keep our campus as safe as possible.”

Gee said the university will look into additional measures that can be taken to prevent such events from happening again.

“The sad fact is our part of the world is also beset with all the ill — and good — of society at large,” Gee said. “We cannot stop bad things from happening — but we can work to prevent them and be prepared for when they do.”

Gee said he cares about WVU students as if they were his own children, and “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.”