Commonwealth's Attorney clears Liberty U guard in shooting death - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Commonwealth's Attorney clears Liberty U guard in shooting death of student

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LYNCHBURG, VA (WWBT) -

A Liberty University security guard acted in self-defense and will not face criminal charges in the shooting death of a student in November, the Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney's Office has ruled.

Security Officer A. S. Mulberry shot and killed 19-year-old Joshua Hathaway of Lubbock, Texas at Residential Annex II, near Odd Fellows Road in Lynchburg on November 19.

Prosecutors decided not to press charges against Mulberry because they believe he was taken by surprise when Hathaway suddenly attacked him with a mallet and reached for the officer's gun.

"There is no question that the officer feared for his life when he shot," according to the report. "The threat to his life was not only reasonably perceived, but based on the evidence, quite real."

According to the report, Mulberry was eating his lunch when Hathaway came in holding his head, claiming he had been mugged and his car was stolen. However, investigators say they later found out Hathaway was lying. As they made their way to the door, Hathaway bulled out the mallet and they began to fight. 

Hathaway and Mulberry wrestled on the ground. Hathaway, who the report says is taller and heavier than Mulberry managed to get on top of the guard. Mulberry tried to shoot, but the gun didn't fire. Hathaway managed to rack the slide on his weapon and fired two shots, hitting the student.

Hathaway was pronounced dead, while the officer was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital for treatment and was later released.

"The Liberty University community is deeply saddened by this tragic event and is prayerfully supporting all those impacted," said President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a written statement at the time.

Hathaway was honored as the Southcrest Christian School Salutatorian at its graduation ceremony in May. He played basketball, was in the band, and completed many service projects, while earning distinction as an excellent student with a GPA of 4.57.  

Hathaway graduated with honors and attended Liberty University on a full scholarship to study business.  

Liberty is a private, Christian university with more than 12,000 students on campus. It was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell.

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