Student Shot And Killed Near Wesleyan University; Gunman At Large

Police in Middletown search for clues in finding the gunman who shot and killedaWesleyan student at the Red & Black Cafe inside Broad Street Books. (JOHN WOIKE)

Johanna Justin-Jinich, a 22-year-old Wesleyan University junior, was never late.

So when she didn't show up for a 2 p.m. spa appointment in Berlin on Wednesday, Jen Bromley became worried.

At 2:15 p.m, she called Justin-Jinich's cellphone and left a voice message. Then Bromley sent her a text: "Are you on your way??"

Bromley, 28, called her phone again. A woman answered, a friend of Justin-Jinich's who was with her at the Red & Black Cafe near Wesleyan.

"She's been shot," the woman told Bromley. A thin man with a long-haired wig "ran up in here and shot at her at point-black range."

Justin-Jinich, of Fort Collins, Colo., was shot several times at the cafe inside Broad Street Books. Her assailant, who was identified late Wednesday as Stephen Morgan, of no certain address, fled on foot and remained at large Wednesday night, police said.

Justin-Jinich was rushed to Middlesex Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Police recovered a wig and a gun at the scene, although Middletown police Lt. Margaret Liseo said that police could not say whether the gun was the one used to shoot Justin-Jinich.

"This is a devastating loss for Johanna's family, friends and for the entire Wesleyan community," Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth wrote in an e-mail. "Our hearts go out to all those who grieve for Johanna, and we hope all can find comfort in the support of friends, teachers and classmates."

Friends described Justin-Jinich as witty and smart, a popular woman who never seemed to be in a bad mood. Justin-Jinich had studied abroad in Spain and had lined up a summer internship on Capitol Hill in Washington with a women's organization.

Wesleyan students had planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday night to remember Justin-Jinich, but in a broadcast e-mail to the Wesleyan community shortly before 7 p.m., officials warned against any such gathering.

"We are advising students to avoid large gatherings, return to their residences, and remain indoors for the rest of the evening," the e-mail said. "There is no reason to believe that the perpetrator of the shooting earlier today is on or near the campus, but we believe that the Wesleyan community could possibly be at risk."

But in another e-mail, sent shortly after 7 p.m., officials urged people on and off campus to be wary.

"Based upon additional information found processing the crime scene, we would recommend Wesleyan students and Middletown residents remain vigilant," the e-mail said. "The suspect is at large and considered armed and dangerous."

Justin-Jinich, who worked at the cafe inside the bookstore at Broad and William streets, was killed about 1 p.m. Officers with dogs and a SWAT team, which had been training nearby, responded quickly and cordoned off the area. Wesleyan and nearby schools were locked down. The state police major crime squad arrived at the scene just before 4 p.m. to catalog evidence.

The center of campus was quiet Wednesday evening, with a few students walking about.

"It almost feels like a ghost town," said Beth Davies, a 21-year-old senior.

Others were trying to enjoy what was left of their annual "Spring Fling" celebration — which was ended prematurely by the shooting and manhunt — by partying in their houses and dorms.

A few faculty members invited students to the student center, where some were overheard saying they had been excited to graduate this month but now would associate the end of their college careers with tragedy.