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'This stuff isn't supposed to happen here'

September 03, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - When news broke of the triple shooting on Shepherd University's campus Saturday afternoon, word spread quickly among stunned students.

Students called each other to make sure friends were safe, while others clamored for details.

By midafternoon, word of the shooting even had spread to Morgantown, W.Va., where students heard about it during a football game between West Virginia University and Marshall University and were trying to get information.

Douglas W. Pennington, 49, shot sons Logan P. Pennington, 26, and Benjamin M. Pennington, 24, multiple times, then shot himself once in the chest with a .38-caliber revolver, Trooper K.W. Martin said. The shootings occurred about 2 p.m. in the parking lot of Thatcher Hall.

Shepherd University spokeswoman Valerie Owens, accompanied by other school officials, made a statement on the steps of the school's administration building after the shooting, and said she could not think of another shooting in the school's 135-year history.

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"It's a pretty small town," said Kelly Weld, a sophomore at Shepherd. "It just doesn't seem a place where that would happen. It's really shocking and scary,"

Weld lives in Shaw Hall, which is near the site on the west campus where the shooting occurred.

Weld, who was walking outside Shaw Hall several hours after the shootings, said she did not know anything had happened until she received a phone call from someone wanting to make sure she was OK.

Although many students were away from the campus because of the Labor Day weekend, a crowd of students gathered outside Thatcher Hall, near the location of the shooting. Cell phones rang in the crowd as students talked to friends about what had happened.

Students talked about how a triple shooting was so out of character for Shepherd University and Shepherdstown, a town known for its trendy downtown that offers upscale restaurants and live music.

"This is supposed to be one of the safer schools," said Susan Upston, a second-year psychology student at Shepherd.

"This stuff isn't supposed to happen here," Shepherd freshman Robert Novack said. "This is the opposite reason I came here."

Extra officers with the school's police department were helping investigate the shooting Saturday, but no extra officers were on campus to beef up security, said Grover Boyer, head of the school's police force.

"There's no threat to the community now," Boyer said.

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