In a shocking incident that has left the Louisiana Tech University community in mourning, a woman was fatally stabbed in a random attack outside a recreation center on the northern Louisiana campus. The tragedy unfolded as students and faculty grapple with the senseless violence that occurred on a seemingly ordinary day.
The victim, identified as 46-year-old artist Ashley Richardson from Ruston, lost her life in the brutal attack. Richardson, known for her work in mixed-media art, was leaving an exercise class when she became the target of the assailant’s violence. Two other women, identified as Cynthia Woodard, a retired Lincoln Parish judge, and graduate student Dominique McKane, were also injured in the attack.
Ruston resident Richardson passed out while being driven to the hospital and fell into the back seat of a good Samaritan’s truck. Both Woodard and McKane are hospitalized, and according to university reports, each is recovering at a different rate. One is in critical condition, while the other could be discharged as early as Wednesday.
Details of the Attack
The attacker, a 23-year-old university senior named Jacoby Johnson, was apprehended shortly after the assault. In addition to the attempted murder allegation, Johnson is now being charged with second-degree murder. The victims of the incident, which happened outside a university recreation center, appeared to be chosen at random.
Eyewitnesses, including Tech freshman Colin Campbell and retired teacher Debby Hollimon, recounted the harrowing moments. Campbell, who heard screams, rushed to the scene and witnessed the aftermath. Hollimon courageously intervened, trying to protect another victim from the assailant.
“I just ran up screaming, ‘Get off her! Get away from her!’” Hollimon said. “He stands up and looks at me with no expression, just as flat as can be.”
Hollimon suffered a graze to her face from the attacker’s knife, highlighting the chaotic and traumatic nature of the incident.
Living in an off-campus residence, Jacoby Johnson was arrested for marijuana possession in February of last year. Authorities assert that there were no warning signs of questionable behavior that would have suggested such a terrible act. The motive for the attack remained a mystery as Louisiana Tech Police Chief Randal Hermes stressed, “There was no rhyme or reason” to the attack.
Impact on the Community
The violent stabbings have shocked the little city of Ruston, which has a population of over 22,000, as well as the university community, which has over 11,000 students enrolled. There has been a surge of sadness, incredulity, and worry for campus safety following the occurrence.
The university administration is taking immediate steps to support those affected, offering counselling services to students individually and in group settings. A campus blood drive for the victims is also being organized to rally the community in solidarity.
In the wake of this tragic incident, Louisiana Tech University continues to face inquiries regarding the circumstances and motivations behind the random attack. Following an incident that has permanently changed the lives of the victims and undermined the sense of security inside the university and Ruston as a whole, the community comes together in grief and support, searching for comfort and understanding.