A man who Connecticut police say sparked two fearful days at a university by killing a student and threatening a campus shooting spree surrendered on Thursday night after seeing his photo in a newspaper.
Stephen Morgan, 29, was taken into custody about 9:15pm after stopping at a convenience store in Meriden, about 16km from the Wesleyan University campus.
Wesleyan officials said that police told them that Morgan targeted Wesleyan students and Jews in his journals. The victim, Johanna Justin-Jinich of Timnath, Colorado, came from a Jewish family and her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.
Clerk Sonia Rodriguez said she didn’t recognize Morgan when he came in and scanned the newspapers. He asked to use the phone, but had trouble dialing, so he asked Rodriguez to dial the police department for him.
After he finished his call, Morgan walked outside to wait for police, Rodriguez said. She didn’t realize there was anything wrong until several officers arrived and threw Morgan to the ground to arrest him.
When police told Rodriguez that Morgan was wanted for Wednesday’s fatal shooting of 21-year-old Justin-Jinich in Middletown, “I got nervous and I started crying,” she said. “I just got very, very scared.”
Morgan is being held on a US$10 million bond and was scheduled to appear in court yesterday.
Justin-Jinich was shot several times inside a bookstore cafe just off campus by a gunman wearing a wig. Authorities have said Morgan and Justin-Jinich have known each other since at least 2007, when Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against him while they were enrolled in a summer class at New York University.
An official with knowledge of the investigation said police stopped Morgan shortly after the shooting, spoke to him and let him go, only to later realize he was a suspect.
When police confiscated Morgan’s car they found a journal in which he spelled out a plan to rape and kill Justin-Jinich before going on a campus shooting spree, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.
Morgan’s brother Greg said Morgan wasn’t anti-Semitic. His family issued a statement pleading with Morgan to turn himself in “to avoid any further bloodshed.”
A woman answering the phone for Justin-Jinich’s father said the family had no comment on Thursday night on Morgan’s arrest. She would not identify herself.