Months After Wesleyan Shooting, Campus Rebuilds

Grief and fear has given way to excitement for a new class of students moving in at Wesleyan

When Wesleyan senior Johanna Justin-Jinich was gunned down at her off-campus job in the university's bookstore, grief and fear gripped this academic community.

The shock of the murder last spring has given way to the excitement of a new class of students at Wesleyan University.

"It had a profound impact initially; I know that the loss to the Wesleyan community at large, it was enormous," said Tim Dodds, a junior. "But rebounding, having that persistence, having the skills to get up after an incident like that - that's what the Wesleyan community's all about."

The scene of the crime, Broad Street Books, has reopened, and so has the Red and Black Cafe inside the bookstore, where the victim was working when she was shot point-blank. 

Stephen Morgan, charged with the murder, faces a pre-trial hearing Wednesday morning in Middletown.

Two classmates of Johanna Justin-Jinich are back on campus pursuing graduate degrees in chemistry.  The murder was the last thing they expected in their senior spring.

"We kind of consider Wesleyan to be very safe and a nurturing environment," said Kumar Sarder, "and just having that taken away at the last moment when we're graduating, is kind of a very frightening experience."

Betty Kolod said, "I had one classmate who died in much less crazy circumstances - he got sick. That had a different impact on me."  But with the shooting, Betty said, "it was like the entire campus pulled together."

University spokesman David Pesci gave NBC Connecticut a statement: "The shooting last May was a tragic event, but it clearly was an isolated incident committed by a stalker at an off campus location. The safety of our students is always our first concern, and we do all we can to make sure that they can enjoy their time at Wesleyan in safety and comfort."

Freshmen walking around on their first full day at Wesleyan are elated to be there.

"I like the community, the feel I got when I visited the campus, the type of students that I met and what I read about it," said Evan Carmi, from Oregon.

Taylor DeLoach, from Maryland, said, "Gorgeous campus, great classes, great people - it's just an all around great place."

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