Editor's note: According to The Collegian’s style guide, The Collegian may not assume the gender of a source. While other sources have identified a gender for the source, The Collegian will refer to the source as they/them unless a gender is confirmed by the source.
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The University of Richmond Police Department received several calls at approximately 12:48 a.m. on Jan. 28 about a person with a knife outside Westhampton Hall.
URPD Police Major Eric Beatty notified Westhampton residents at 9:21 a.m. in an email that URPD took a student from another university into custody.
URPD located the student in Tyler Haynes Commons. The student was in possession of a pocket knife, Beatty said.
At midnight, Junior Lauren Xavier heard loud knocking from outside Westhampton Hall and opened the door for the student who had the pocket knife. Xavier did not see the pocket knife and she assumed the student was from UR. The student joined her and her friends in Westhampton Hall’s study room, Xavier said.
“He just had a conversation with us. It wasn’t anything creepy. It was just like, weird things and he was acting like we knew each other.” Xavier said.
After speaking for 20 minutes, The student walked down the dormitory halls yelling and banging on doors, Xavier said. They came back to the study room and told Xavier and her friends they were not crazy.
Xavier said the student never said what their name was.
The next day, URPD detective Angie Dubose knocked on her door and asked for Xavier’s statement.
“[Dubose] said the person who supposedly had a knife was found and he’s getting the help he needs and is not going to jail,” Xavier said. “Which is good because I was worried about that.”
After interacting with Xavier, the student approached sophomore Ryan Thompson and his roommate, sophomore Phunziro Phuza on Keller Road between Westhampton Hall and Crenshaw Field. The student asked if he could ride Thompson’s skateboard, Thompson said.
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“And then he starts getting up in our faces,” Thompson said. “He asked me if I think his breath smells bad and like where our dorms were and what we were doing for the rest of the night.”
Thompson remembered the student was wearing white shoes, jeans and a red jacket. Thompson, who is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, said the student was approximately his height.
The student had a lot of energy as he talked about the stars and asked Thompson and Phuza questions, Thompson said.
“And eventually, he turned his back for a moment and I noticed that he had a knife or what looked like a knife in his right pocket,” Thompson said.
He and Phuza took a few steps back from the student and then ran as fast as possible to Westhampton Hall. They did not turn to see if the student was following them, Thompson said.
“We ran up the stairs [in Westhampton Hall] because we wanted to get to my friend’s room and lock the door,” Thompson said.
At his friend’s room, Thompson told URPD about his interactions with the student. URPD did not notify Thompson, who resides in North Court, of what happened to the student with the knife, despite the fact that he interacted with the student, he said.
Sophomore Ryan Doherty said the lack of updates from URPD was concerning to him.
“[URPD] did, of course, come to the scene, but they did not really play much of a role in informing other people up until this morning at 9 a.m. when they sent an email out only to people in Westhampton, not to anyone who was on that side of campus or even the other building for that matter,” Doherty said.
Doherty was hanging out with his friends in Westhampton when he saw Thompson and Phuza run into the residence hall, panicking and trying to close the door, he said.
Doherty, who eventually got a police escort back to his residence hall, said the student with the knife interacted with other people in Westhampton prior to their encounter with Thompson and Phuza.
A Resident Assistant on duty was alone in the duty office when she heard an aggressive knock on the door, she wrote in a statement to The Collegian. She thought it was another student or a fellow RA.
“I opened the door and he aggressively moved past me,” she wrote. “He proceeded to say things that didn’t make much sense. I was asking him questions and trying to get him to leave.”
At one point, the student got up and walked towards her, she wrote. The two moved about and at one point, he threw her laptop to her from the couch.
“I tried to call URPD on my phone and it died,” she wrote. “I got him to leave the duty office. I then called the area coordinator on call on the duty phone for next steps to this situation. I was pretty shaken up.”
The student was much taller and much bigger than her, and as a woman, she was scared to be in an enclosed space with him for a period of time, she wrote.
A few minutes later, she saw a group of people outside, later learning that the student possibly had a knife, she wrote. A student then called URPD, she wrote, and she went back into the duty office and called the area coordinator and URPD on the duty phone.
“It was an extremely scary situation and a situation I hope no one has to deal with,” she wrote. “It was traumatizing, and I think this campus needs increased security. I’m just glad everyone is safe.”
Senior Danielle Maxwell said while she understood URPD may not release a statement for privacy reasons, the experience was nerve-wracking not knowing whether or not she and her friends were safe to leave their friend’s University Forest Apartment.
With no campus wide notice, Maxwell and her friends stayed locked in the UFAs until approximately 2:30 a.m., she said.
URPD has yet to release a campus-wide statement because of privacy reasons.
Contact sports editor Jimmy James @firstname.lastname@example.org and executive co-editor Ananya Chetia @email@example.com
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