There have been several concerns shared with me from students about recent incidents in and around Farmville. I'd like to provide you with a few more details about those incidents and our role in them.
On Sunday, Jan. 27, LUPD received a report of a person with a gun at Longwood Village. An officer was dispatched to the scene, and quickly determined that the person of interest had left the area. Security camera footage confirmed his departure, and after interviews with key people who knew the person, the officer determined there was no ongoing and imminent threat to campus security. The incident continued to be investigated, and the person of interest was confirmed to be back in Northern Virginia, where he resided. The next day, a warrant for his arrest was issued, and while LUPD remained confident he was in Northern Virginia, out of an abundance of caution, we emailed campus asking for students to be on the lookout for his car. He was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Last Monday, Feb. 4, the Piedmont Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, as part of an ongoing investigation, executed a search warrant at a house near town. An LUPD officer was on the scene as part of the task force. The person inside the house opened fire on police, resulting in his own and an officer’s death. It is a tragic situation that worried many people in town and on campus. Virginia State Police was the lead department at the incident, and controlled what information could be released, and when. VSP and the LUPD officer on the scene did verify there was no threat to campus safety, which was communicated to the campus community that evening. The Virginia State Police press release on the incident can be found here.
We know you place your trust in us to keep the campus safe, and we strive to live up to that trust every day. By law and practice, we send out a warning to campus anytime there is a verifiable and ongoing threat to campus safety.
Student safety is a top priority. The LUPD is comprised of highly trained officers whose job it is to assess threats to campus safety and deal with them properly. I have been in law enforcement for 49 years and lead a full-time, professional police force that consistently wins accolades for its record of protecting students. These are sworn officers of the law, also deputized into the Farmville PD and Prince Edward Sheriff's Department and work in close collaboration with those entities as well as the Virginia State Police.
We appreciate the vigilance of our students and staff who engage LUPD when something seems wrong. Working together, we can keep the campus and community safe. I understand these incidents may be unsettling, and I encourage you to be in touch with me, any LUPD officer, or Dr. Tim Pierson at any time with your concerns or questions. If you have further questions about warnings to campus, you can find an FAQ here.
Col. Bob Beach