The apparent murder of a beloved, young high school teacher July 5 on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington was « not a random incident » and poses « no present danger » to the university community, according to police and university officials.
The victim was identified as 25-year-old Maxwell Emerson, a social studies teacher and wrestling coach from Crestwood, Kentucky.
Prior to identification, an official with the Metropolitan Police Department for the District of Columbia told OSV News a man was found shot July 5 at 8:22 a.m. near 600 Alumni Lane on the campus of Catholic University, and the police department’s violent crime branch was called to the scene.
According to a July 5 statement issued by university president Peter Kilpatrick, Emerson and the not-yet identified suspect walked onto the southeastern part of the campus around 8 a.m., then got into an altercation, during which Emerson was shot in front of the school’s Father O’Connell Hall. The suspect then fled.
Despite the intervention of first responders, Emerson later died at a local hospital.
Preliminary information indicated Emerson was likely « not associated with the campus, » Daniel Drummond, the university’s associate vice president for communications, told OSV News July 5. He said the school was « never placed on lockdown, » and classes and activities proceeded as usual.
In a statement released the morning of July 5, the university said police believed both the suspect and victim « knew each other. »
« We ask that you pray for the victim who died and law enforcement who are determining what occurred, » said the university in its statement.
On July 6, the university held a brief prayer service in front of Father O’Connell Hall. On the day of the attack itself, Emerson was remembered at a noontime campus Mass.
The university also offered counseling resources and security precautions, noting in its updated July 5 statement that the school offers « a safe campus, but we are not immune from the impacts of violence. »
Emerson was « loved by students and respected by his peers, » said the Oldham County, Kentucky, school district that employed Emerson, in a July 6 statement. « Max was a young teacher, but he made it his goal to form lasting relationships with his students in order to foster a life-long love of learning. He had a passion for creating exciting, creative and rigorous lessons to keep students engaged. »
Police have not yet announced the arrest of a suspect. Maxwell was one of five people killed in the nation’s capital from the afternoon of July 4 to the morning of July 5.
During the overnight hours, nine people celebrating the July 4 Independence Day holiday were also shot and wounded in Washington’s Deanwood neighborhood. Those victims, all of whom survived, included a 9-year-old and a 17-year-old.