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Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: The First Recorded Campus Shooting in the U.S.

Posted by Gilbert Stack on April 12, 2019 at 5:20 AM

On this day (April 12) in 1840 the first recorded campus shooting occurred in the United States. The shooting occurred in the midst of an annual protest over the University of Virginia’s decision to ban guns on campus. The students were shooting guns near their instructors’ houses in protest when popular professor John A.G. Davis decided to put an end to it. He went outside and tried to grab one of the masked students. The student slipped away but turned and shot Davis in the belly, killing him.


The murder shocked the university community and students joined with their professor to hunt down the culprit, identified as Joseph Semmes. He was caught the next day hiding in a pine grove. He refused a judge’s request to take an oath on the bible to tell the truth because he was an atheist. He was then granted bail and fled, committing suicide at his brother’s house in Georgia seven years later by shooting himself in the eye.


Categories: Today in History

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