Yesterday afternoon, a disguised gunman shot and killed Wesleyan University student Johanna Justin-Jinich, who was working at a local bookstore. Police have advised students to stay indoors, as the shooter is still at large.
At around 1 p.m, Justin-Jinich, a Wesleyan junior, was working at a cafe inside Broad Street Books in Middletown, Connecticut, when a man wearing a long wig came in and shot her five times, reports the Los Angeles Times. Justin-Jinich of Timnath, Colorado, was pronounced dead at the hospital and police have identified the suspect as 29-year-old Stephen Morgan, who they say has no known connection to the university. A surveillance photo of the shooter taken inside the bookstore was released, and police say he is still armed and dangerous.
Several people witnessed the murder and police found a wig and weapon used by the gunman. The New York Daily News is reporting that Morgan was Justin-Jinich's ex-boyfriend, and that he used the disguise to get close enough to shoot her. However, police won't confirm the two had a relationship, or that the gun found was the murder weapon.
After the shooting, a SWAT team practicing nearby quickly closed off the downtown area and the Wesleyan campus was locked down, according to the Hartford Courant. In an email sent by the university at 5 p.m., students were told that they should "return to their normal activities" as the gunman was most likely not on the Wesleyan campus, reports the student newspaper The Wesleyan Argus. Many students assumed the suspect had been caught, and people were seen roaming the campus. Two hours later, though, students received emails and voice messages saying they should stay inside for the rest of the evening and cancel large gatherings, including a candlelight vigil the students had planned to remember the slain student. Authorities said they had uncovered evidence that "heightened our level of concern" but didn't say what the evidence was. This morning, police said they believe that Morgan is still in the area. The university has advised students to stay in their dorms and told staff to stay home today. Classes were already cancelled because it's a "reading day" to prepare for final exams.
Friends described Justin-Jinich as witty, smart, and popular and told the Courant that her passions included writing, her work in public health, and women's issues. She had volunteered at various Planned Parenthood offices in Colorado and Connecticut and had a summer internship lined up on Capitol Hill with a women's organization.
Justin-Jinich's friend Leah Lucid, who has known her since freshmen year and was planning to room with her next year, said she had been up past midnight talking in her dorm room the night before. "She's a really loyal friend; a really loving, passionate person about life and about her friends and family," Lucid said. "She was the most giving and loving person I have ever known. I'll remember her loyalty and her warm smile whenever I saw her and her very funny voices she would make with me."
College Student Gunned Down [The Los Angeles Times]
Wesleyan: Alleged Shooter Stephen Morgan Still In The Area [The Hartford Courant]
Suspect Identified In University Shooting [The Wesleyan Argus]
Student Shot And Killed Near Wesleyan University; Gunman At Large [The Hartford Courant]
Student Slain On Wesleyan Campus; Armed And Dangerous Suspect On Loose [The New York Daily News]