Uncomfortable hug leads to box cutter slashing in professor’s office: court documents

Posted at 3:44 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 21:26:20-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The woman arrested for stabbing a Reynolds Community College professor in his office may have done so to get out of an uncomfortable situation.

When Brittany L. Burfield, 24 of Glen Allen, showed up at the professor's office Thursday afternoon, she hugged the 68-year-old professor, according to a criminal complaint filed in court.

"During that interaction, Professor [retracted] touched Burfield's butt. Burfield felt uncomfortable and that the interaction was not right and attempted to exit the office," the complaint continued. "Burfield attempted to exit the office, but professor [retracted] grabbed Burfield. Burfield reached in her purse to retrieve a box cutter and slashed professor [retracted] in the back of the head."

When Burfield left the office, she was quickly detained by faculty and later campus police.

It was not immediately clear whose version of events the criminal complaint filed in court represented.

"Usually, if the police speak with only one of the two people it's the victim’s version that's in the complaint," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said. "If he [the professor] was rushed to the hospital and she [Burfield] gave that version to the police, then they would naturally charge [her] because the law doesn't allow one to use more force than is necessary to defend oneself."

Stone, a defense attorney by trade, said whether the slashing was done out of anger, retaliation, or even in self-defense, the charge was likely based on the information police had at the time.

The Investigation 

Virginia State Police are handling the investigation.

A Virginia State Police spokesman would not comment on whose version of events the criminal complaint represented.

Burfield was charged with one count of felony malicious wounding. She was booked in Henrico jail with no bond.

She has refused an interview request to share her version of events.

The professor was taken to VCU Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Neighbors stunned 

His neighbors said they were surprised to hear about the situation that unfolded on the Parham Road campus Thursday.

Jeanie and George Tunstall said they have known the professor for nearly 30 years in the Mechanicsville neighborhood.

"Whenever you needed talk to him he was willing to," Jeanie Tunstall said.

The couple said he was a quiet man who lived alone.

"He didn't seem to have like a lot of parities... where he would have a lot of students over or anything," Jeanie Tunstall said.

The couple said the reported incident is totally out of character.

"It doesn't sound like him doing something like that," George Tunstall said.

The couple said they will be there for the professor and hope he comes home soon.

"Well, we wish him the best -- and speedy recovery," George Tunstall said.

College's response 

A spokesperson for J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College said the school sent a "timely notification via email" about the assault to all current students, faculty, and staff.

"The notification stressed that an arrest had been made and there was no continuing threat to campus safety," a Reynolds spokesperson said. "This notification went out within 90 minutes of the incident."

The school confirmed Burfield was not currently enrolled as a Reynolds Community College student, but, citing privacy laws, declined to comment on whether she ever was enrolled there.

This is a developing story. Submit a news tip here.

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