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When gun violence impacts college community: 'It’s like you can’t escape it'

Posted at 4:40 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 18:01:02-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Some students at Virginia State University in Ettrick remain devastated after learning about the shooting death of classmate Daniel Wharton.

Wharton, 19, of Alexandria, was shot and killed Sunday, December 5, at the University Apartments near the university's Ettrick campus.

“Imagine sending your kid to go get an education, and they come in a box," VSU student Alicia Williams said. “When everybody heard it was a freshman, it really broke a lot of people's hearts.”

Williams, who did not know the freshman computer engineering student personally, said the violent loss of a fellow Trojan has impacted the entire campus community.

"They’re coming here to get away from the stuff that they see at home, and shootings happen everywhere in the neighborhoods that we’re from," she said. "It’s like you can’t escape it."

Licensed clinical social worker Charlie Pleasant said it was normal for students to feel in disbelief or denial about the shooting.

“There's no right way to respond to trauma," she said.

She said those who have experienced or witnessed repeated cycles of violence were more likely to face long-term mental effects.

“It's what we call compounded trauma. And that can have very long and lasting effects," she said.

Pleasant encouraged students to learn into their support system and talk about the tragedy

VSU has made counseling available to students who need help.

Anyone with information was asked to call Chesterfield Police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.