Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tragedy in Shepherdstown WV

I typically do not post on Sunday. However, recent news from my "home away from home" (Shepherdstown) forces me to stop away from old habits.

A close friend of mine (who is almost always "in-the-know") called me while I was out with my family yesterday to inform me that there was a shooting at Shepherd University Saturday afternoon.  At the time of the call, little details were available. Since that time, most of the major local media has covered the story:

Shepherd's official website has a press release, and The Associated Press release was featured at both the Charleston Gazette as well as

SHEPHERDSTOWN — A Grant County man and two of his sons died in an apparent murder-suicide on the Shepherd University campus Saturday afternoon, State Police said.

Douglas W. Pennington, 49, shot sons Logan P. Pennington, 26, and Benjamin M. Pennington, 24, then shot himself with a .38 caliber revolver, the West Virginia State Police said. Both younger men were identified as Shepherd students.

Police said the elder Pennington traveled to the campus in the Eastern Panhandle to visit his sons, but offered no reason for the shootings.

The shootings occurred about 2 p.m. in a parking lot between the Butcher Center and Thatcher Hall. Police said the Penningtons were pronounced dead at local medical facilities. The parking lot is located near residence halls on the campus’ west side.

“We are stunned to hear about this terrible tragedy,’’ University President David Dunlop said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.’’

Dunlop emphasized that there is no continuing threat to students.

The Martinsburg Journal features a description of one of the students via information obtained from the popular website  Though I don't know how reliable Facebook is as a resource for a news story, here is what was featured::

According to, Benjamin lived in Thacher Hall, the dormitory near where the shootings occurred. He resided on the building’s second floor.

Benjamin had graduated from Petersburg High School in 2001, and had hoped to graduate from Shepherd in 2007. He was a sociology major at the school.

On the Web site, Benjamin said that he enjoyed watching movies, playing video games and listening to musicians like Beck, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. He said he also liked “cats, beer, summer, Bill Clinton” and “Dr. Darboe’s class.” He also enjoyed “Seinfeld,” “The Sopranos” and books like “1984” and “Animal Farm.” The Web site indicated he was in a long-term relationship with a fellow Shepherd University student.

The majority of us who live on campus have come to view Shepherd as a safe campus, one in which something like this could never happen.  However when you couple this with last year's armed robbery, one can only ask how safe we really are.  Obviously this news is just stunning to those of us associated with the Shepherd campus.

Thoughts and prayers for the families of the victims and the friends they left behind at Shepherd.  If more information becomes available, I shall do my best to update.  Again, please keep these families and friends in all thoughts and prayers.

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