On Sunday, Sept. 15, Longwood University student Jacob Richardson, 22, accidentally discharged a firearm, causing a non-life threatening leg wound to Longwood student Kathleen Battle, 21.
According to a police report distributed by the Farmville Police Department, the act occurred around 8 p.m. and was later described as an “accidental shooting.”
Students, faculty, staff and community members were alerted of the event by police reports from the Farmville Police Department, the Longwood University Police Department, the Longwood University website homepage, the Longwood University Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the e2Campus alert system.
In an email interview, Richardson gave the details on the happening. He stated that on Sunday, Sept. 15, he arrived at Battle’s home at 504 High Street around 7:50 p.m. to pick up a handgun that he left the previous night.
The handgun was a Springfield XD sub- compact .40 caliber handgun.
Richardson noted that he left his truck at another house and decided to leave the handgun in Battle’s room to avoid having it stolen from his truck.
“Upon my arrival to Kathleen's house on Sunday night, I realized that the handgun was still loaded and that I should unload it in order to make it safe,” Richardson said.
Richardson described unloading the gun, and stated, “Battle was standing close to me.”
Describing the process, Richardson said he dropped the magazine out of the gun, then grabbed the slide of the gun and pushed it back in order to eject the bullet.
“As soon as I pushed the slide, the gun went off in my hand. My hand was immediately burnt by the explosion coming from the barrel (referred to as powder burn), and then I turned towards Kathleen and realized that the bullet had struck her in the leg,” Richardson said.
After the incident, Richardson stated that he immediately called 911 and that as he did so, “other people in the house began to put compression on her leg.”
According to a police report filed by the Farmville Police Department, Battle was transported to Centra Southside Community Hospital before being transported to UVA Medical Center with the non-life-threatening injury.
While speaking on his relationship with Battle, he said, “We have been friends since our freshman year at Longwood. I would consider her a very close friend as well as everyone else that was at that house on Sunday night.”
Richardson stated that he has never been previously charged with any criminal offense of any sort, including misdemeanors and felonies.
“I will also say that I have over 12 years of experience when using and handling guns,” Richardson stated.
As reported from the Sept. 18 issue of The Rotunda, Richardson was charged with Reckless Handling of a Firearm and was released pending a court appearance in Prince Edward County General District Court on Sept. 30 at 9 a.m.
Reckless Handling of a Firearm is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to the Virginia General Assembly Legislative Information System website. The website further details that the authorized punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor is “confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.”
He added, “Almost any one that knows me will confirm that I am responsible and knowledgeable when it comes to all types of firearms and firearm safety. There is such [a] thing as an accidental discharge of a weapon, and it is extremely unfortunate that this happened.”
Chief of Farmville Police Department Doug Mooney commented on his knowledge of Richardson, stating, “I can tell you I am familiar with this student, and he seems like a nice young man, a good student, and it’s unfortunate it happened.”
Mooney reported that the Farmville Police Department has an “agreement” with the Longwood University Police Department that any contact with Richardson henceforth must be forwarded to the Longwood University Police Department, which is then forwarded to the Judicial Board for any reviews they may feel the need to conduct.
Regarding any past instances that have occurred at Longwood University and the Town of Farmville that are similar to the Sept. 15 accidental shooting, Mooney said that he believes there was one instance in the previous year where the individual was either unloading or cleaning a weapon and accidentally struck themselves.
“From my previous location in a populated area, which was ChesterfieldCounty,itwasnot a rare instance really to have an accidental discharge of a firearm, and sometimes people were struck with it, and it’s something that happens when people handle weapons. Unfortunately, sometimes things like this do happen,” Mooney said.
Mooney advised students who have firearms to make sure they’re secured in a location where they are unable to be stolen, played with or accidentally fired. He added that
the owner must be familiar with the weapon, how to handle it, unload it and load it, as well as other basic safety measures.
He advised that students who may be interested in buying a weapon take a hunter safety course or firearm safety course and practice in a fire range to understand how to properly operate the weapon.
“Any weapon, you treat it as if it’s loaded, and you keep it pointed in a safe direction whether you have it loaded or you don’t. It comes down to basicsafety,andit’seasytoteach that, but in practice, it’s also easy to stray away from it, and things like this can happen,” Mooney said.
Longwood Police Department Sergeant Ray Ostrander stated that Longwood University students, faculty and staff are not permitted to have a firearm on campus or in Longwood University-managed housing, including the Longwood Landings, Lancer Park and the Longwood Village.
Students, faculty and staff are also not permitted to store firearms in vehicles on campus.
Ostrander stated that students, faculty and stuff may bring their firearm to the LUPD for storage.
For more information on firearm regulations at Longwood University, contact the LUPD at (434) 395-2091.